Believing Misinformation About Anxiety Disorder

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 17, 2021
Believing Anxiety Disorder Is Caused By Something Other Than Behavior

Anxiety Disorder Myth #12: another common myth is believing anxiety disorder is cause by something other than behavior

There has been a lot of misinformation spread about anxiety disorder over the years. In fact, some groups spent a lot of money and worked very hard to spread misinformation about anxiety disorder so that they could benefit.

Due to the proliferation of this misinformation, many people have strongly held beliefs about anxiety disorder, its causes, and treatment even though their beliefs may be incorrect. Research has found that once a belief has been internalized as ‘true’ – even if it actually isn’t true – it is hard to change even if there is an abundance of evidence to the contrary. While this research may be surprising, it actually echoes how humans behave and why long-held beliefs are difficult to change.

Therapists run up against this barrier all the time, and is one of the reasons making healthy change takes much longer than most people think – because people have difficulty changing their belief systems in spite of the abundance of evidence that proves a belief to be untrue.

One of the barriers to lasting recovery is believing misinformation about anxiety and recovery rather than what has been proven true. For example, for years pharmaceutical companies propagated the ‘chemical imbalance’ myth about anxiety, which was dispelled in 2011. Click the link more information about the demise of the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory.

Sadly, even five years later, many people (including many medical and mental health professionals) still believe anxiety disorder is caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’ in the brain…when in fact, it never was.

Moreover, in spite of the abundance of information about genetics, some people (including many medical and mental health professionals) still believe anxiety disorder is caused by a genetic predisposition…when it isn’t. Click the link more information about the false belief that genes cause issues with anxiety.

How can believing this myth hamper recovery?

Believing anxiety is caused by something other than its actual cause places the solution outside of our control. If a person believes anxiety is outside of his control then there is nothing he can do about it. This conclusion makes him an anxiety victim rather than being empowered to make healthy change.

As we state in our materials, anxiety is a physiological, psychological, and emotional state that occurs when a person behaves apprehensively. So, anxiety is a result of a certain style of behavior and not caused any other problem. Dealing with the true cause of anxiety unwellness – unhealthy behavior – addresses anxiety unwellness. When you deal with the cause, you effectively address the problem.

All of us have the ability to address anxiety unwellness with the right information, help, effort, and support. No one needs to be a victim of anxiety, especially since anxiety is something we create rather than something we are victims of.

If you desire relief from issues with anxiety, you may need to challenge your perception of it so that you, too, can be empowered to make meaningful and lasting change.

How can believing this myth make things worse?

Anxiety occurs when we worry that something bad or harmful may happen. If you believe your anxiety is caused by something outside of your control that you can never ‘correct’ or resolve, the implications of that realization could make you feel more anxious, and even depressed.

When people feel they have no hope, this mindset can produce the very outcome they fear and dread, which creates more anxiety and depression.

But if you believe anxiety is a behavior you can work at changing, that realization alone can bring hope, which can alleviate a great deal of unnecessary anxiety and feelings of being depressed.

Anxiety isn’t about something that’s ‘gone wrong’ and that you can’t correct. Anxiety is about behavior that all of us can change and control when we know how. Working with an experienced anxiety therapist, coach, or counsellor can teach you those important skills.

All of us at have experienced problematic anxiety and know how out of control it can seem. But we also know that there are many ways we can successfully treat it. Getting the right information, help, and support is all that is required to address anxiety unwellness. No one needs to suffer needlessly!

In order to move in the direction of lasting recovery, one must have the correct information and help. Otherwise, one can flounder…and even for years as anxiety disorder seldom resolves on its own. Until the unhealthy behaviors are deliberately changed, they continue to cause problems, such as having issues with anxiety.

Again, doing the right work can address issues with anxiety. It’s unrealistic to think that any other approach will produce satisfactory results.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Myths page. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including the anxiety myth: Believing Anxiety Disorder Is Caused By Something Other Than Behavior.