The Pitfalls of Anxiety Support Groups

Some people who suffer from phobias and anxiety, give up in frustration after years of struggling. They give up any hope of finding a solution. Instead they form the belief that they have a “phobic personality” or are just an “anxious person”. They consider their phobia or anxiety unique and believe that there is no cure.

I remember a woman who came to see me who was convinced that her anxiety was a “lifelong illness” because her psychiatrist had told her so! Even when she started feeling better after several sessions with me, she was skeptical because her psychiatrist was telling her that it was only a remission.

Support Groups
Joining a support group may seem like a logical way to cope with your phobia and anxiety. You may feel relieved to learn that you’re not alone. You might feel isolated, frustrated or even depressed. Knowing that there are people like you who have experienced the same phobia can be comforting. You meet compassionate, caring and understanding members in a support group who share their suffering and struggle. This seems reassuring and comforting. However, is it really in the long run?

This sense of comfort one feels may actually have potential drawbacks.

The important question is, what is your goal? You want to overcome your fears. Not to merely confirm their existence. Often staying in and participating as a member of a support group can become more important than the original goal to overcome the phobia or anxiety problem.

Seeking help from a health practitioner
In general, there are two approaches: Traditional or Alternative.

The biggest challenge with either approach is finding a competent professional who can really help and provide you with results. After all, results are the only thing that counts. Not university degrees or years of experience. Whether someone has a Ph.D. or is a licensed health care practitioner does not necessarily mean that they can help you.

Traditional methods
Traditional methods for treating a phobia or anxiety generally include two specific types: psychotherapy and medication.