Can Anxiety Be Cured or Just Managed? What Even Is Recovery?
Can anxiety be cured? I know that if you look for an answer to this question you will find a very wide range of answers. This week on the podcast we’ll look at why there’s such a wide range of opinions on this and where the truth – if there is even a universal truth – lies.
- If you ask the question, “Can anxiety be cured?” you will find really wide range of answers that may encourage, inspire, disappoint, discourage, or even terrify you. On one end of the range are people (including researchers and clinicians) that will tell you that they have a sure-fire anxiety cure for you and that yes, your anxiety can be cured so that you never panic or ever experience anything bad ever again. On the other far end of the spectrum are people that will tell you that it can never be cured and you can only learn to manage or cope for the rest of your life.
- In the middle, you’ll find people like me what will never promise a cure in that you’ll never panic or feel afraid ever again, but also do not believe that the best you can do is learn to cope and manage through avoidance and constant soothing and imposition of restrictions and conditions on your life.
- Why is there such a wide range of answers to this question? Which answer is right? Is there even a universal truth here?
- There is a very large number of anxious people in the world, and those people cannot agree on clear definitions for words like cure, manage, or cope. Everyone has their own definitions for these words when it comes to anxiety problems. Everyone has their own hopes, wishes, and expectations. That means we have a large population of people looking for help and answers that are not even all looking for the same answer.
- The end result is a large “marketplace” (we’re not talking about money or marketing here) that has lots of little vertical segments and niches in it. There is no shortage of people more than happy to fill every one of those slices and niches. We then wind up with a wide ranging array of answers to the original question, “Can anxiety be cured? Just managed? What even is recovery?”
- I think the wide range here is not necessarily tied to approaches or modalities. This is not a lavender oil versus exposure question at all. Across all parts of this spectrum you’ll find multiple approaches to anxiety. I’m not here to pass judgment on them although if you’re reading this you clearly know what my theoretical orientation is when it comes to recovery and anxiety.
- Are there people in this “marketplace” that are out just for money and less than honest? That’s sadly true in most of life. But I do believe that most people trying to answer that question for you are trying to answer it in a way that they truly believe will help you. Do not automatically glue variance to malicious intent here. Keep your eyes open, but not everyone that has a different approach to this problem is trying to scam you or is only in it for the money.
- So what is the truth? Well, there is no universal truth. Your truth lies in your expectations and what you hope for. It lies in how you want to define words like cure, manage, or cope. Ultimately, I think your individual truth lies on the other side of experience, not just in thinking about it. You won’t know what really “works” for you by just thinking about what might work or debating it. We find our recovery truth by trying things, learning, adjusting, trying again, then reaching and experiential conclusion.
- I know that that is not the total guarantee that you were hoping for, but as always, we don’t get total guarantees in life so this is what we must navigate through. Maybe you’re unsure now of who is “right” and what is “true”. That’s OK. This can be confusing. Just know that being unsure of what recovery looks like doesn’t mean you can’t recover. That’s important.
Here are a few episodes of the podcast related to this topic:
Here is a YouTube video I did with Lauren Rosen and Kelley Franke talking about what recovery looks and feels like.
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