Anxiety Disorder Stereotypes (2023)

Today’s guest blog post is by a young writer from Pakistan, Saim Cheeda, who lives with anxiety and depression. Saim may be writing from halfway around the world, but his guest post shows that these disorders and other peoples’ reactions to them are universal across cultures. He brings a positive message to people everywhere living with anxiety not to let society’s negative judgements hold them back. – Jay Boll, Editor in Chief

Anxiety is the most common problem people seek out therapy for. It affects every person at some point in life but is considered a mental illness when sufferers display signs of chronic anxiety. The ill-effects of suffering from this problem aren’t restricted to physical distress, with a significant amount of impact dealt to a person’s emotional well-being.

From my own experiences living with anxiety, I have been on the receiving end of a number of remarks thrown my way by people who don’t understand me. Others stricken with anxiety have lived through the same because this isn’t an isolated stigma surrounding the illness.

A sense of being judged over what you might say, or the prospect of facing strangers who may or may not consider whether you behave this way on purpose, hangs over your head during social interactions; this also manifests at work or school.

It’s difficult to find help when it’s hard to explain what you’re going through. If you’re suffering from anxiety, judgements are made regardless of gender, ethnicity, location, or background.

The “Man Up” Argument

I remember confiding in my friend over my worries for a job interview. His response: a curt, “We’re men; we’re not supposed to be scared”.

Men are still burdened in this day and age with the image of being considered dominant. To this end, any hint of fear is taken as a sign of weakness.

The men that seek help are handed out the wrong advice; mostly in the form of a “Man Up” statement. This does nothing for the person suffering from anxiety, as the advice offers nothing of substance.

Adverse effects of shutting down fears rather than confronting them can result in a false idea of masculinity and prolonging the issue of anxiety. This causes the person attempt at ignoring the problem that plagues them.

Masculinity is not a defined character trait; it’s about feeling comfortable in your skin for being the person you are. Stereotypes toward male roles shouldn’t dictate how you carry yourself.

Being Called Weak and Useless

Indecision is a result of anxiety; formulating several scenarios in the mind is an impulse that proves hard to control. With such thoughts, you could spend restless hours going over one matter repeatedly with no resolution.

This lack of initiative is misconstrued as a sign of weakness, and you could find yourself being branded as useless. With the mind already in doubt, you could take heed to these comments and begin believing them.

“You do nothing to contribute for your family.”

(Video) Stereotypes Threaten Your Brain's Well-Being: Memory, Anxiety, Motivation | Valerie Purdie Greenaway

A friend of the family said this to me, perceiving my lack of noticeable involvement as actions of an ungrateful brat. There was nothing I could think of saying, and remained silent while stealing a gaze toward the wheelchair I had pushed my grandmother on while rushing her to the hospital a week ago.

To fight this notion, think of all you have accomplished over your life. Think of the things that make you passionate; these are achievements you’ve made because you weren’t held down by thoughts of worthlessness.

Known To Be Arrogant

A case of social anxiety brings with it avoidance. It’s a natural inclination to avoid large gatherings when you’re anxious to mingle with people. This is misinterpreted by others as a sign of arrogance.

I was singled out by my brother, who accused me of thinking myself to be “better than others” when I declined attending gatherings.

When a person avoids meeting people, society interprets that as a sign of them possessing arrogance for refusing to socialize. No one knows you’re probably fiddling with your hands in the corner, running through dozens of scenarios where you take a chance and throw yourself in the crowd, hoping that would make them accept you.

I didn’t know why I was being called out for my arrogance when I’d thought I was doing enough to please people. And in my intention to make up for this false image of myself I inadvertently ended up coming across even more conceited.

“Don’t call him. He’s so full of himself.”

I overheard a colleague whispering to another about a planned trip of office mates. When the first one nodded in agreement, I retreated back to work, pretending that hidden exchange didn’t sting in the chest.

Judgments Over Sexuality

Anxiety causes people to avoid pursuing romantic interests. Not everyone is up to the task of chatting with someone from the other sex and shyness is taken as disinterest in seeking relationships.

Once it becomes noticeable a person is avoiding interaction with people of the opposite gender, it can be seen as confusion over one’s sexuality. Heterosexuals may be regarded as closeted homosexuals and vice versa. You could even begin questioning your sexuality due to repeated remarks about it.

This can lead to concerns over sexuality, resulting in lower confidence and depression.

Tagged As “Wimps”

Fidgeting, stuttering, and other ticks are visible when an anxious person is in an uncomfortable situation. Bullies take advantage of this behaviour. The sufferer can conversely begin exhibiting more fidgeting than before the bullying commenced due to feeling conscious.

Social anxiety results in overcompensation of behaviour, such as smiling excessively when around larger amounts of people. Despite being bullied, the sufferer will continue smiling in order to hide their displeasure of the situation. You could be stuck with the tag of a “wimp” for not defending yourself.


There are people who prey on those who don’t exude the same level of confidence the bullies do. This doesn’t make them any better than you. Remember, they are the ones with the problem; you never did anything wrong. If you’re stuck with an undesirable label, it doesn’t make it true.

Termed As Boring

People with anxiety aren’t necessarily against the concept of fun. They may indulge in light-hearted interactions with social circles they are comfortable in, but in environments where they don’t feel like they fit in they come across as dull.

It will come as a massive surprise to find out a person you think isn’t fun is in fact capable of being the life of the party. The environment where you are plays a part in how you present yourself. In my personal circles I’m notorious for being a jokester. Among people I’m not comfortable with, I’m the last one approached for a chat.

You’re not boring. There are beautiful qualities in all of us. We don’t need to scream it at the top of our lungs to be noticed, we just need to be around those people who understand us.

Considered Lethargic

A fear of judgment may prevent you from beginning, or getting underway with, your work at hand. Anxiety over potential mistakes can hinder your progress, with delays in carrying on the task. This indecisiveness is surmised as lethargy by observers.

The extensive time taken to complete an assignment can hurt a person’s credibility, resulting in them being judged as a “lazy person”.

I remember being at the library for hours obsessing over every single detail of my college project, my heart throbbing aggressively within the confines of my ribcage, my mind creating impossible scenarios where a single mistake cost me my education. After panicking the implications of the assignment and spending the day cutting and chopping content, I submitted it to my teacher, who proceeded to admonish me for my tardiness.

“You can’t succeed if you don’t take this seriously.” He snapped, snatching the papers from my numb fingertips.

It’s not right for you to continue making mistakes or keep delaying important work. But it also doesn’t mean you accept ridicule over something you can’t control. The best way to get past this rut is to communicate with colleagues or peers over your issues. A little help goes a long way toward gaining confidence.

Being accused of flaws in character can be discouraging, especially when these accusations aren’t true to your personality. It is important to remember the cause for your shortcomings, and that it isn’t your fault for being classified as a person you are not.

Suffering from anxiety can become a sink-or-swim situation; you must be knowledgeable of the factors that are hurting your lifestyle. Once you’re aware of what’s holding you back, steps should be taken to overcome your anxiety.

It is imperative to understand that anxiety is treatable and taking the proper course of action for your troubles is the right way to proceed. The tags placed on you by society are by people who don’t understand what you’re going through – their judgment does not define who you are.

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(Video) How I Learned to Overcome Mental Health Stereotypes | Evelyn Carillo | TEDxCentralArizonaCollege

Anxiety Disorder Stereotypes (1)Author Bio: Saim Cheeda is a 25-year-old freelance writer and novelist from Pakistan. He has dealt with anxiety and depression since 2010 and writes to bring awareness to mental health. He can be found on his personal blog called 3 States Apart. He has also written three novels focusing on life, spirituality and love.

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Photo byDollar GillonUnsplash

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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What is the relationship between stereotype and anxiety? ›

Claude Steele's stereotype threat hypothesis has attracted significant attention in recent years. This study tested one of the main tenets of his theory—that stereotype threat serves to increase individual anxiety levels, thus hurting performance—using real‐time measures of physiological arousal.

How do you copy with anxiety? ›

Here are 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder:
  1. Keep physically active. ...
  2. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. ...
  3. Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. ...
  4. Use stress management and relaxation techniques. ...
  5. Make sleep a priority. ...
  6. Eat healthy foods. ...
  7. Learn about your disorder.
20 Jul 2021

What are the 3 different strategies mentioned to cope up with anxiety? ›

Exercising regularly, eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep, and staying connected to people who care about you are great ways to stave off anxiety symptoms.

Is there a stigma around anxiety? ›

Research from the National Survey of Mental Health Literacy and Stigma shows that a common misconception about how society views anxiety is 'most people believe that anxiety is a sign of personal weakness'. The other two common misconceptions include: 'most people believe anxiety is not a real medical illness'; and.

Why is anxiety so embarrassing? ›

Feeling ashamed of symptoms caused by a mental health condition, including anxiety, is a common feeling many people experience. It's not your fault you have anxiety. Feeling ashamed of it may result from the social stigma surrounding mental health — something that needs to change.

What is stereotyping in mental health? ›

Stereotypes are assumptions about individuals based on the presumed qualities of the group they belong to. Stereotypes can lead to inaccurate assessments of people's personal characteristics.

How do stereotypes affect behavior? ›

Considerable recent research has examined the effects that activated stereotypes have on behavior. Research on both self-stereotype activation and other-stereotype activation has tended to show that people behave in ways consistent with the stereotype (e.g., walking more slowly if the elderly stereotype is activated).

How does stereotyping affect human behavior? ›

New research found that these ingrained beliefs systematically affect people's equity preferences, making it possible to predict how they will treat members of different social groups. People carry around biases—subconscious or otherwise—about social groups and often treat members of different groups differently.

Does anxiety try to trick you? ›

When we are more susceptible to stress, depression, or anxiety, our brains may be playing tricks on us. A cycle of continuing to look for what is wrong makes it easier to find what is wrong out there. It's called a confirmation bias.

What does anxiety feel like writing? ›

Writing anxiety disorder usually presents as physical symptoms: your palms start to sweat, your heart beats as though you're in a marching band, you feel dizzy and light-headed. Some people even get panic attacks. And before long, these physical symptoms morph into a desire to procrastinate.

Can you feel someone elses anxiety? ›

Empaths tend to have high affective empathy. When people you care about face worry and stress, you experience that emotional pain right along with them. As long as they continue to struggle, you might feel anxious and concerned on their behalf.

What is the best way to beat anxiety? ›

Things you can try to help with anxiety, fear and panic
  1. try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. ...
  2. use calming breathing exercises.
  3. exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax.

What is the best approach for treating anxiety? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. Generally a short-term treatment, CBT focuses on teaching you specific skills to improve your symptoms and gradually return to the activities you've avoided because of anxiety.

What is the most effective way to deal with anxiety? ›

10 strategies to try
  1. Slow breathing. When you're anxious, your breathing becomes faster and shallower. ...
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation. Find a quiet location. ...
  3. Stay in the present moment. ...
  4. Healthy lifestyle. ...
  5. Take small acts of bravery. ...
  6. Challenge your self-talk. ...
  7. Plan worry time. ...
  8. Get to know your anxiety.

Why is social anxiety so stigmatized? ›

Source of Stigma

In general, the main cause of stigma is lack of understanding. This lack of understanding may result because a person has never experienced mental illness themselves or because they are not aware of the types of mental disorders that exist (or that social anxiety disorder is one of them).

What mental illness is stigmatized the most? ›

Studies showed that schizophrenia is the most stigmatized mental illnesses in MHP, despite recent results suggesting that borderline personality disorder and substance abuse may be more stigmatized.

Should you be ashamed of anxiety? ›

Fortunately, though, anxiety disorders are treatable and nothing to be ashamed of. It's not uncommon for individuals with anxiety to feel embarrassed about it, which can cause people to feel alone and suffer in silence.

Is anxiety unrealistic fear? ›

Anxiety is rooted in irrational fears of what might happen. In other words, a sense of a lack of control.

Can anxiety be terrifying? ›

While some people think of anxiety as an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach or the fear they feel when standing atop a high building, severe anxiety symptoms can be much worse and downright terrifying. Symptoms of severe anxiety can create the feeling of a heart attack or even make you feel like you're dying.

What are stereotypes 3 examples? ›

  • Girls should play with dolls and boys should play with trucks.
  • Boys should be directed to like blue and green; girls toward red and pink.
  • Boys should not wear dresses or other clothes typically associated with "girl's clothes"

What is a good example of a stereotype? ›

For example, women are positively stereotyped as warm but negatively stereotyped as weak; Asian-Americans are positively stereotyped as competent but negatively stereotyped as cold; Black Americans are positively stereotyped as athletic but negatively stereotyped as unintelligent.

What is severe anxiety called? ›

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.

How can we avoid stereotypes? ›

Develop empathy for others. Try to walk in their shoes. Educate yourself about different cultures and groups. It is important to educate ourselves and continue to do self-assessments about our stereotypes and how they are potentially interfering with our interactions.

What factors create stereotypes? ›

Stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination often come from:
  • inequalities in society.
  • ideas learned about other people/groups from family members, friends and/or the media.
  • not spending a lot of time with people who are different from you in some way.
  • not being open to different ideas and ways of living.
19 Jun 2018

What role do stereotypes play? ›

Author: Stereotypes Shape Our Perceptions And Ourselves : NPR. Author: Stereotypes Shape Our Perceptions And Ourselves Columbia University Provost and social psychologist Claude Steele says that stereotypes play an important role in defining who we are, and how we are seen by others.

What is stereotyping in simple words? ›

: to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same. It's not fair to stereotype a whole group of people based on one person you don't like.

What are the types of stereotype? ›

Groups are often stereotyped on the basis of sex, gender identity, race and ethnicity, nationality, age, socioeconomic status, language, and so forth. Stereotypes are deeply embedded within social institutions and wider culture.

How is stereotyping harmful short answer? ›

It is harmful because it involves generalisation and is unfair because it overlooks the unique qualities and skills of individuals. It fits many people into a certain type or pattern which is harmful for society.

What is false anxiety? ›

Unwanted thoughts are one of the most common examples of false anxiety. Often time we as humans tend to be cynical, thinking about worst case scenarios, 'what if' thoughts so to speak. We tend to get so caught up in our thoughts that we end up getting trapped by them.

What a person with anxiety thinks? ›

People with anxiety often have thought patterns such as: Believing the worst will happen. Persistent worry. All-or-nothing thinking.

Do people with anxiety try to hide it? ›

When you've lived with anxiety long enough, you often become a master at hiding it. Whether you have different strategies for different situations, or one go-to “mask” you throw on whatever the circumstance, sometimes hiding our anxiety is the only way to survive the day.

How real can anxiety feel? ›

feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down. feeling like other people can see you're anxious and are looking at you. feeling like you can't stop worrying, or that bad things will happen if you stop worrying. worrying about anxiety itself, for example worrying about when panic attacks might happen.

How do I know if my anxiety is real? ›

Signs of an anxiety disorder
  1. your worrying is uncontrollable and causes distress.
  2. your worrying affects your daily life, including school, your job and your social life.
  3. you cannot let go of your worries.
  4. you worry about all sorts of things, such as your job or health, and minor concerns, such as household chores.

How do u know if ur suffering from anxiety? ›

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
  1. Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
  2. Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.
  3. Having an increased heart rate.
  4. Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  5. Sweating.
  6. Trembling.
  7. Feeling weak or tired.
  8. Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

Can anxiety cause lack of empathy? ›

The anxiety can influence empathic behavior, and this relation has been globally studied in the context of psychology and psychiatry, where it has been observed that anxiety could inhibit a positive relationship with others in their capacity to understand their feelings [25].

Why does one person trigger my anxiety? ›

Very often the anxiety we feel around other people is a reflection of the way we perceive ourselves. Projection is a common defence mechanism which causes us to take aspects of ourselves (which we find uncomfortable and unsettling) and ascribe them to other people.

Can I tell my friends I have anxiety? ›

It's okay for you to not want to tell everyone; it's personal to you and not always something people want to broadcast because it can make you feel vulnerable. But after you talk about how you're feeling and release your emotions it can make you feel so much better, like a weight has been lifted!

Does anxiety ever go away? ›

Since it's a natural part of the human condition, anxiety is not completely curable. But feeling anxious should be a temporary state that resolves when a stressor or trigger has passed.

Is anxiety a mental illness? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

How long does anxiety usually last? ›

From the time of diagnosis, an anxiety disorder can last from a few months to many years. Most people will have symptoms of an anxiety disorder for a long time before seeking professional help, sometimes up to 15 years³.

Which anxiety disorder is most treatable? ›

Living with anxiety can be challenging. However, like other anxiety disorders, GAD is highly treatable. Some of the most effective treatments include psychotherapy, medication, and making lifestyle changes. In this article, we provide an overview of GAD, including its symptoms and causes.

How do I deal with anxiety and overthinking? ›

Tips for addressing ruminating thoughts
  1. Distract yourself. When you realize you're starting to ruminate, finding a distraction can break your thought cycle. ...
  2. Plan to take action. ...
  3. Take action. ...
  4. Question your thoughts. ...
  5. Readjust your life's goals. ...
  6. Work on enhancing your self-esteem. ...
  7. Try meditation. ...
  8. Understand your triggers.
15 Nov 2019

Can anxiety be cured or just managed? ›

Anxiety disorders are very treatable. Most patients who suffer from anxiety are able to reduce or eliminate symptoms after several (or fewer) months of psychotherapy, and many patients notice improvement after just a few sessions.

How do people perceive anxiety? ›

According to a recent study, people with anxiety fundamentally have a different perception of the world. More specifically, anxious individuals have a more difficult time distinguishing between neutral, “safe” stimuli and emotionally-charged or threatening stimuli.

What is a character trait for anxiety? ›

Neuroticism. Neuroticism is a personality trait related to negative emotional states and is highly associated with several anxiety disorders, including various phobias, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and generalized anxiety disorder.

What gender is anxiety most common in? ›

Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and the prevalence of anxiety disorders is significantly higher for women (23.4 percent) than men (14.3 percent).

What are 5 characteristics of anxiety? ›

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.
  • Having an increased heart rate.
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling.
  • Feeling weak or tired.
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

Do people with anxiety think differently? ›

By biasing attention, anxiety alters what we are conscious of, and in turn, the way we experience reality. This can have profound consequences. Anxiety's effects on attention may shape worldviews and belief systems in specific and predictable ways. It can even affect our politics without us knowing.

How does anxiety affect people's behavior? ›

Anxiety can also affect your behaviour. You may withdraw from friends and family, feel unable to go to work, or avoid certain places. While avoiding situations can give you short-term relief, the anxiety often returns the next time you're in the situation.

Is anxiety a trait or behavior? ›

Theories about personality and the role that anxiety plays in it vary among different schools of thought. However, many models of personality include trait anxiety, or neuroticism, as a component. Sigmund Freud provided the first description of anxiety as a personality trait.

Who suffers the most from anxiety? ›

Anxiety disorders affect nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States. Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Anxiety disorders are often treated with counseling, medicine, or a combination of both.

What's the most common age for anxiety? ›

Adults ages 30 to 44 have the highest rate of anxiety of this age group, with around 23% of people this age reporting an anxiety disorder within the past year.

Who's more prone to anxiety? ›

Women are nearly twice as likely to experience anxiety as men, according to one study. And both women and men under the age of 35 have a significantly higher risk than other age groups.

What are the top 3 anxiety disorders? ›

What are the five major types of anxiety disorders?
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder. ...
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ...
  • Panic Disorder. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)

What are the 4 main causes of anxiety? ›

Anxiety may be caused by a mental condition, a physical condition, the effects of drugs, stressful life events, or a combination of these.


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