When people think of mental illness, therapy often comes to mind. This association makes sense — if you have mental health issues, therapy can be an effective treatment. But what happens when you’re struggling with mental health problems, but question whether or not therapy will work? What if you put off getting therapy out of fear?
In reality, many people avoid therapy for various reasons. People with anxiety, in particular, may avoid therapy — let’s look at some of the reasons why.
1. Therapy Makes Them Anxious
When someone has anxiety, there may be specific triggers that cause anxiety for them. For some socializing or public speaking may bring on anxiety. For others, they may get nervous when they think about things they can’t control, falling into an endless cycle of worrying thoughts.
While for others, therapy itself could be an anxiety trigger. It’s difficult to be vulnerable or to talk about your past experiences. But we know that these things are typically required for therapy to work. Many people cope with anxiety by avoiding their triggers, so avoiding therapy seems like an obvious solution.
Though the thought of therapy might make you anxious, it gets much easier with time. And avoiding the anxiety trigger just makes the anxiety worse. Once you open up and work through your problems, you’ll realize that your therapist is there to help you, not bring about more anxiety.
2. They Don’t Think It Will Help
When anxiety is a part of your everyday life, it’s easy to live with it and try to ignore its impact. With high functioning anxiety, you still fulfill your responsibilities, get through the day, and even exceed your goals. If your anxiety isn’t stopping you from succeeding in life, then why bother with therapy? Would it even work?
Many people have this kind of mindset about therapy, especially when they have high functioning anxiety. Because they’re getting through the day just fine, they don’t see how therapy will make a difference. While you may be able to manage, are you actually enjoying the day?
Therapy helps you break down and better understand stressors in your life. Though you’re coping with your anxiety, it’s still adding stress and may be contributing to physical symptoms as well. Believe it or not, you don’t have to feel anxious all the time. It’s possible to meet your responsibilities, get through the day, and exceed your goals without feeling constant pressure or anxiety — and therapy can help you get there.
3. They Feel Ashamed
There can be a stigma associated with mental illness and therapy, and a big one is a sense of shame or embarrassment. Instead of recognizing anxiety as a treatable illness, some people may feel shame for having what are often normal experiences.
If you have anxiety, you may have tried to downplay symptoms or avoiding talking about them. You may even convince yourself that your anxiety isn’t that bad or that you don’t need help, but deep down you know that isn’t the case.
There is no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed about your anxiety. It is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world and is very treatable. It is estimated that 19.1% of adults in the US struggle with anxiety and it’s likely higher during the pandemic. You may have avoided therapy in the past because it feels scary or overwhelming to talk about your symptoms or experiences. Your therapist is not there to judge your symptoms or the way you cope with them. Instead, they will help you understand why you feel how you do and how you can find healthier coping mechanisms.
Once you open up and put any shame aside, you’ll realize that you don’t need to hide or belittle your mental illness. By talking about it, you can better treat it.
At DC Metro Sleep and Psychotherapy, anxiety is one of our specialties. We provide strategies that can help. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation to find out how we can help you.