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How can social stigma affect people with generalized anxiety disorder?

Stigma about mental illness -- the negative thoughts and feelings others have about mental health disorders -- exists worldwide. Because of stigma, many people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have never received a professional diagnosis or treatment for the disorder, leaving them struggling unnecessarily for years. For many, the fear of what others think may overcome their will to seek treatment. It is common for someone with GAD (or another mental health disorder), to think that if they tell friends or family that they need help they will be ostracized, both personally and professionally.

Researchers have documented the stigma and discrimination, be it social, employment, or housing, against those with mental disorders. Researchers are working to understand the cultural attitudes towards mental disorders and to develop programs to combat this culture-specific stigma. In a few Western cultures, seeking a diagnosis and treatment for GAD is not as taboo as it once was, primarily due to the increased understanding about anxiety as a “disorder of the brain.” However, in most cultures worldwide, it is still unfortunately seen as a sign of weakness, rather than strength, to seek help for mental health disorders.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.