The Real Truth about Anxiety: Debunking Assumptions and Defining Anxiety

IMG_3397Disclaimer: I’m not a therapist or specialist in this field of work. This article is a work of personal opinion. Please consult a doctor or specialist in this field if you are genuinely struggling mentally.

So here’s the thing. I struggle with anxiety. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it’s a constant battle. In the Christian world, this is a tough thing to open up about (at least in my experience.) From what I have seen and heard, all everyone has to say is, “Trust God” and “Just Stop Worrying.” “Worrying is a sin, just stop.” While these things are correct, I would like to inform people that there is an actual difference between worrying and anxiety or panic disorder. And, these may not be the right things to say depending on the person’s situation or struggle. I have gotten responses that have made my battle seem minimal and so misunderstood. Maybe others feel the same. I make an effort to actively trust God with my life or any hard circumstances that I’m going through. However, there is a hidden truth behind the battle. There is more than just worry. There is a real truth about anxiety. A truth that set me free from the condemning accusations and assumptions there are about anxiety, and I hope it can do the same for you too.

Here are some common assumptions about worry and anxiety. Debunked.

  1. They are the same thing. False. They are not.
  2. It’s easy to stop worrying. False. Y’all. No. It’s a hard thing.
  3. Anxiety means your not trusting God. Yes and No. Depends on the situation. Sometimes anxiety just happens for no specific reason and just happens due to emotional trauma, chemical imbalances, or an event that triggers anxiety. You can still trust God through it all, it just looks different when you truly have anxiety/panic disorder.
  4. Anxiety is not common. False. So MANY people battle this. There is a plethora of research, people, and information to help people who deal with this.

Let’s talk about thought processes. When people worry, it’s a bad thought process. Having an unhealthy thought process can mean we think about things that are not true, fixate on not having enough, or agonize about our future. As Christians, we are called to surrender our needs and thoughts to God. Let’s illustrate thought process’ with building blocks. We can choose to build upon good thoughts or bad. Each thought builds upon the next. Worry is an unhealthy thought process that can reciprocate into actions.

The Google definition of anxiety is very different from how the American Psychological Association defines anxiety. The American Psychological Association defines Anxiety:

“Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.

Adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology

Research on Anxiety
Anxiety, sadness may increase on the anniversary of a traumatic event
Anniversary dates of traumatic events can reactivate thoughts and feelings from the actual event, and survivors may experience peaks of anxiety and depression.

Answers to Your Questions about Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is highly treatable, with a variety of extremely effective therapies. Once treated, the panic disorder doesn’t lead to any permanent complications.”
Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/index.aspx

The big difference between worry and anxiety is the fact that one has physical symptoms and the other doesn’t. This gets to the real truth about anxiety. Anxiety isn’t just a thought process, but a battle of thoughts and physical symptoms that have resulted from emotional trauma or a chemical imbalance. This is very hard for me to say, but if it helps anyone out there than its worth the vulnerability. For my wrestle with anxiety, it has come in the form of fast heart rate, chest/throat tightness, sweating, trembling of words and hands, the feeling of being dizzy and of course the uneasy thoughts. A lot of the time the physical symptoms then create more turmoil in and of itself. The physical symptoms of anxiety cannot be stopped with a thought or the snap of the fingers. People need to understand this. Yes, people with anxiety can change the way they think and trust God, but it is not that easy or straightforward. Clear research and science ensure that the topic of anxiety is complex and linked to real imbalances and emotional trauma.

Check out these links!

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201603/10-crucial-differences-between-worry-and-anxiety

https://www.verywellmind.com/fear-and-anxiety-differences-and-similarities-2584399

https://www.visioncounselling.com.au/fear-and-anxiety/

The real truth about anxiety is that anxiety in its pure form it is not what most people think it is. Genuine anxiety is complex and requires a clear understanding of the topic. The truth is that in the battle there is so much grace and love. The fact is that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from God’s love. The truth is that there is no fear in love. Yes, we must trust God and repent of any worry, doubt, or fear. But, we also need to understand that God is there to help us, comfort us, heal us, pray for us, love on us, give us mercy, and oceans of grace in our weakest moments. In our most vulnerable moments, Jesus is strongest. It’s a bold surrender to say, “God I’m battling right now. Please help me through this. I need Your wisdom. I need your comfort. I need Your strength.” Giving our needs, requests, and honest thoughts to God demonstrates a humble strength. Jesus said that the healthy don’t need a doctor but the sick. The people who are honest with themselves, and to God, about their needs and situation reveal a childlike faith and sincere heart.

Know that if there is anyone out there battling this battle of anxiety, you are not alone. Know that God examines our intentions and weighs our hearts. If we are genuinely seeking the heart of God, we are leaning and depending on Him. We are seeking His face and spending our time with Him. We are letting His Spirit and Word guide us, convict us, and teach us. We are engaged in a relationship with Him. We can not earn salvation or favor. God loves us because of what Jesus has done for us. With Anxiety, I believe God is nurturing His children to a place of grace, learning, trust, and surrender. To worry and doubt is a sin (that we must repent of), but remember there is a difference between true anxiety and worrying. I hope knowing this difference and definition can shed light on the topic and help anyone out there struggling. This life is a process of learning, growing, and leaning on God.

Here are 10 tips for someone who struggles with Anxiety:

  1.  Seek a counselor’s help.
  2. Read books on the subject.
  3. Pray and read the book of Psalms, Romans, or Ephesians. Or Just whatever scripture you want. Trust that God loves you.
  4. Be present. Focus on today.
  5. Draw.
  6. Listen to music.
  7. Journal.
  8. Exercise.
  9. Eat healthily.
  10. Engage in a supportive and loving community.

Lots of Love.

Nicole

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