26 Assumptions You Shouldn't Make About Someone With Anxiety


For the millions of Americans living with anxiety disorders, there can be good days and bad days. Explaining this to others can be somewhat exasperating. Worse yet, when people who don’t have anxiety assume they know exactly what it’s like, debunking their definitions of the disorder is enough to give anyone a headache.

And while coping mechanisms can be mistaken for anti-social behavior (canceling plans again must mean you’re mad at your friends, right?), that isn’t always the truth.

We reached out to our Facebook communities and asked those living with anxiety to set the record straight.

Here are some assumptions you shouldn’t make about people with anxiety:

1. “I am antisocial or a bitch.” —Casey Coats

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2. “I can just ‘turn off’ my anxiety. If that was the case, I would have done that already!” —Alexis Dorn

3. “You can control it.” —Mari Smith-Roerig

4. “People assume I’m just being dramatic on purpose!” —Julianne Ortiz

5. “I ‘didn’t take my meds because I’m having a bad day. Medication isn’t some sort of magic thing that just makes you not have anxiety, even with medication bad days happen.” —Becky Davidiet

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6. “It is a choice.” —Christina Schulz

7. “I’m just being overly cautious when I check things over and over again. They don’t realize that the bully in my brain basically tells me the worst will happen if I don’t check my straighteners are off one more time before leaving the house. They assume it’s a personality trait, rather than an imbalance.” —Vicky Gage

8. “Bursts of calm social behavior mean I am cured.” —Ramona Rhae

9. “If I just got out and socialized more I wouldn’t be so anxious.” —Jennifer Peterson

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10. “I don’t want to hang out with them.” —Patrick Dovah Bowden

11. “I’m negative all of the time.” —Morgan Rinck

12. “At some point I’ll just ‘get over it.’” —Sarah Martin

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13. “I should know why I feel the way I do.” —Kristin Duncan

14. “My anxiety is just because I’m a woman and that it doesn’t interfere that much in my life.” —Grace Shockey

15. “I am flaky or rude for canceling plans at the last minute.” —Holly Cooper McNeal

16. “There must be something besides my brain that is making me anxious.” —Judith Reed Quander

17. “I just need to calm down and relax.” —Stephanie Williams Ewert

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18. “I want pity because of my anxiety.” —Deanna Yourgans

19. “I’m not a social or extroverted person. I love going out, trying new things and meeting new people, but my anxiety likes to stop me from doing that.” —Monica Jean Cozadd

20. “I’m on the verge of suicide or a nervous breakdown.” —Cyrynda Goody Walker

21. “A panic attack is visible. You can’t see my thoughts normally, so why do you think you can tell from the outside when I’m having a panic attack?” —Sharon Fischer

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22. “Because my anxiety disorder causes my hands to shake sometimes uncontrollably people think that I’m a drunk [and] coming off a bender.” —Mark Williams

23. “I’m controlling because I’m always trying to fix things or prevent things I see coming, particularly if I see them coming when nobody else does.” —Carol Stewart

24. “I make up my depression and anxiety attacks for attention!” —Brooke Stephens Rivera

25. “If I have a smile on my face, I’m OK.” —Sheri Little

26. “I just worry too much.” —Melissa J. King

Editor’s note: Not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way. These answers are based on individuals’ experiences.

*Some answers have been edited for brevity and clarity

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