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Can Anxiety Make You Believe Things That Aren't True?

Katelyn Hagerty

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 7/21/2022

There are a number of mental illnesses out there that can make you believe things that aren’t necessarily true, including bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and paranoid personality disorder.

But what about anxiety? Can it make you think things that aren’t true? 

First things first — anxiety is a fairly common mental health disorder. In fact, it is estimated that around 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder. 

Anxiety disorders can have a big impact on your daily life and on your mental health, and they can even impact your physical health. Learn a bit more about the various anxiety disorders, then find out if they can also lead to distorted thinking. 

What’s the Deal with Anxiety?

There are a number of different anxiety disorders. One of the more common types is called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is diagnosed if you struggle to control your anxiety more often than not for six or more months. Other signs or symptoms of GAD are an increased heart rate, irritability, tiredness, nervousness and trouble sleeping.

But GAD isn’t the only anxiety disorder. There are actually four other types of anxiety disorders to be aware of, which are:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): This is marked by compulsive thoughts and behaviors — like needing to repeatedly clean a countertop or lock a door over and over, or having other obsessive thoughts.

  • Panic disorder: Regular panic attacks are a common sign of panic disorder. Other signs include fear, heart palpitations and quickening breath. 

  • Social anxiety disorder: You may know this as social phobia — it is when you get overwhelmed in social settings. It can be general or specific to things like public speaking.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Traumatic events — from serving in the military to surviving a natural disaster or assault — can spur this disorder on. 

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Does Anxiety Make You Believe Things That Aren’t True? 

Honestly, it can. Anxiety can fill your mind with all kinds of thoughts and make you worry about things that won’t necessarily happen or things that aren’t true. 

Here’s why: Anxiety plays a not-so-funny trick on your brain. It tells you that you need to worry about things even if you don’t. For example, someone with anxiety may worry that a bad person could take advantage of them — even if there’s no sign this could happen. 

Some people call these intrusive thoughts and it’s estimated that about 6 million people deal with them. Given that we already mentioned that around 40 million people deal with an anxiety disorder at some point, this means that anxiety doesn’t always come with intrusive thoughts. But if you have anxiety, you may have intrusive thoughts — it’s thought that anxiety or stress can trigger these thoughts. 

Treating Anxiety

Anxiety can really put a damper on your daily life — especially if it’s making you think things that aren’t true. Luckily, there are ways to treat anxiety. Two of the most common treatments? Therapy and medication.

Therapy

There are different types of therapy you can try if you have anxiety. One popular form is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). With this, you speak with a mental health provider and begin to identify behaviors that do not help or that aggravate your anxiety. From there, you work with your therapist to find ways to address those behaviors.

Medication 

Another option is medication for anxiety. Often, medication and therapy will be used together.

Some of the medications prescribed for anxiety disorders include antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (like escitalopram) and beta blockers. Both of these can help ease symptoms of anxiety.

A healthcare professional can help determine if you would be a good candidate for anti-anxiety medication. Hers offers online consultations with mental health providers.

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Managing Anxious Thoughts 

Anxiety disorders affect a large number of people in the United States. And while each type of anxiety disorder has different signs and symptoms, there are some things that can affect anyone with anxiety. You can learn more in our anxiety resource guide.

Intrusive thoughts or believing things that aren’t actually true can happen if you have anxiety. For example, you may be so fearful or worried about something happening, you start believing it absolutely will happen. 

This is no way to live and if you are having these types of thoughts, you really should seek out professional help. If you are having intrusive thoughts or worry you have an anxiety disorder, you’ll want to speak with a medical professional. That person will be able to diagnose an anxiety disorder — if you have one. To help get your anxiety under control, schedule a consultation with a healthcare professional to receive medical advice.

9 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Facts and Statistics. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
  2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad
  3. Symptoms, Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/symptoms
  4. What are the five types of anxiety disorders? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html
  5. Thoughts are Just Thoughts: How to Stop Worshiping Your Anxious Mind. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/thoughts-are-just-thoughts
  6. Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/unwanted-intrusive-thoughts
  7. Managing Intrusive Thoughts. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/managing-intrusive-thoughts
  8. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
  9. Medication for Anxiety Disorders in Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nyulangone.org/conditions/anxiety-disorders-in-adults/treatments/medication-for-anxiety-disorders-in-adults

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

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