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Is Anxiety a "Disorder?"

Aug 17, 2007
I receive a lot of e-mails regarding so-called conditions or diagnoses that individuals have been labeled with, and I felt it was time to say something on this subject. Understand, that I'm not against doctors or therapists or any other health care professionals. Many of these people are dedicated, well-trained practitioners who do their very best to help people live better lives. But I think there is an over emphasis on labeling individuals, so that their situation falls neatly within a pre-ordered category. The truth is, as individuals, everyone's situation is unique, and it is highly unlikely that many people's problems will fit neatly into one of these "boxes."

Labels may have their use, as a type of shorthand to help practitioners get a basic idea of what's going on in your life, but they can be disastrous to the individual. For example, years ago I was diagnosed with several "conditions" and their accompanying labels: unipolar depression, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, etc. Unfortunately I took these labels seriously, and in doing so doomed myself to feel like a victim of all these so-called conditions for many years.

It was as if a doctor had told me I had a broken arm; I would have never thought, "I can take care of this on my own." I would have recognized that I had a bona fide condition that was outside of my control and needed medical help to deal with. But behavioral problems are not so clear-cut. Most behavioral problems, like anxiety, are under the individuals control to a great extent, if not completely! Because whether we accept the responsibility or not, we ALL have control over our thoughts. And our habitual thoughts affect all of these so-called behavioral conditions to a great extent.

But if we give in to the "conditions" or the "labels," it takes the situation completely out of our control. In other words, we become victims, and accept a victim status in regard to our anxiety or other problems. This victim mentality can quickly become a habit that causes us to always look outside of ourselves for the answers to our problems -- including anxiety. The first step in overcoming anxiety problems is to overcome this victim mentality. This is probably the most difficult part of the process, but once an individual ceases to see themselves as a victim of anxiety or any other situation, improvement in their life comes quickly.

The tricky thing is, society often encourages us to accept this victim mentality. You see examples of this everywhere: in our courts, in the media and even in our educational institutions. So in some ways, developing the non-victim mentality requires you to go against a lot of what you see around you in the world. As I said, I believe this is the most difficult step in overcoming anxiety -- or other life problems -- but all real change springs from the realization that you as an individual are in control of your life, in control of your thoughts and in control of your behavior. Because frankly, if YOU are not in control of these things, who is?
About the Author
Jon Mercer recovered from a 20 year struggle with severe anxiety to become a successful personal development coach and author. Today he helps others eliminate anxiety problems through private consultation, seminars and video coaching programs.

Jon is the founder of www.easycalm.com, a leading anxiety resource site. Click here to watch a free video explaining Jon's method of eliminating Anxiety.
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