Is Anxiety Disorder A Selfish Disorder?

Last updated April 25, 2021

Play the video below for Jim Folk's answer to the question, "Is Anxiety Disorder A Selfish Disorder?" Jim Folk is the president of


"Is Anxiety Disorder A Selfish Disorder?" - Video Transcript

"When I asked for help to learn and work thru anxiety in a CBT workshop thru mental health, I was told it is a selfish disorder. I felt pushback at this concept as I was really struggling and didn’t need to hear that I was selfish. What’s your take on this?" - Loreena Acton

Well, frankly, I don’t agree with that opinion. I don’t believe anxiety is a selfish disorder. In fact, I haven’t even heard anxiety framed that way, so I was a bit of a surprise when I saw your comment.

While some people might use anxiety for personal gain, such as sympathy, to gain something, or to escape personal responsibility, most people who struggle with anxiety issues don’t use anxiety for personal gain.

In fact, the vast majority of anxiety disorder sufferers would do anything to get rid of it and return to their normal life as quickly as possible.

I know that was my motivation. I wanted to get through it as fast as I could so I could get back to my normal life.

Most anxious people that I’ve interacted with over the years are selfless, caring, empathetic, and compassionate to a fault, which are far from selfish.

Moreover, anxiety is based on fear, not selfishness.

Many of us have learned to behave overly anxiously because we’ve had some significant early life situations that taught us life can be dangerous, and if we aren’t careful, bad things can happen. So, we’ve learned to become overly cautious about life.

In this regard, anxiety is not about selfishness, but about survival.

Thankfully, we can learn to live life less anxiously, and yet still live a safe and joy-filled life.

Since that group has framed anxiety disorder as being a selfish disorder, it’s not a group I’d recommend since the premise of the group is misguided, in my opinion.

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.

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