Jake Paul came under fire for tweeting 'anxiety is created by you' — but a therapist says he's not wrong
- YouTube star Jake Paul tweeted Monday that anxiety is "created by you" and encouraged people who struggle with it like him to take simple steps like talking to a friend to manage it.
- The now-deleted tweet faced backlash from followers who said it undermined the debilitating experience of having an anxiety disorder.
- Paul defended the tweet, saying it helped raise awareness for the condition he said he's had his whole life.
- Megan Bruneau, a therapist in New York City, told Insider both Paul and his critics have valid points about how anxiety manifests and can be treated.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
YouTube star Jake Paul insists he intended to send an encouraging message to his followers when he tweeted Monday to "remember anxiety is created by you."
He continued: "sometimes you gotta let life play out and remind yourself to be happy & that the answers will come. chill your mind out. go for a walk. talk to a friend."
The now-deleted tweet riled up some followers, who felt the message victim-blamed and undermined the sometimes debilitating experience of having an anxiety disorder.
"Being anxious and having anxiety are not the same," one user said, according to Page Six. "Drinking water and going for a walk are things for people who r stressed or nervous not people who have to live with anxiety disorder."
But Paul, 23, isn't backing down, tweeting later Monday that his message only helped to raise awareness of the condition.
"Everyone clowning my tweet but it's now spreading more awareness about anxiety which i didn't even know was a thing till I was 18 but had it my whole life & never knew how to deal with it," he wrote.
Paul also pointed people toward a HealthLine.com article about how to cope with anxiety and when to know it's time to see a doctor.
Anxiety disorders are influenced by many genetic, environmental, and other factors
While everyone experiences stress and anxiety from time to time, anxiety disorders describe several conditions that go beyond what's normal and healthy.
For instance, to be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which affects about 5.7% of US adults at some point in their lives, people have to experience excessive anxiety or worry most days for at least six months, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.
People with GAD can feel on-edge, easily fatigued, irritable, easily dis tractable, and have trouble sleeping to the extent that their social and work lives suffer.
Like most mental illnesses, anxiety disorders stem from a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors, so saying anxiety "comes from you" is a simplistic but not entirely inaccurate way to put it, New York City therapist Megan Bruneau, told Insider.
"It's not an 'either or', it's a 'both and,'" she said about whether or not anxiety "comes from you" or from something you can't control.
"Jake probably had good intentions in wanting people to feel more empowered to combat or learn to live alongside their anxiety in a way that feels more sustainable … yet [the tweet] came off as invalidating and minimizing of the biospsychosocial factors contributing to anxiety," Bruneau said.
Self-care can help, but won't cure, anxiety
Effectively treating anxiety disorders typically involves therapy, either with or without medication, that helps people shift their thought patterns to better reflect reality rather than their biggest fears.
While behavioral strategies like taking a walk can help manage the condition, they don't "replace doing the therapeutic work one has to do to change their relationship to themselves or expectations," Bruneau said.
For example, while taking a walk may temporarily ease your stress, it won't teach you how to set the boundaries that prevent you from becoming stressed in the first place. Self-care also won't solve biological issues like nutrient deficiencies or hormonal imbalances, or societal problems like sexism and racism, that could be contributing to the anxiety either.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, "you need more help than just reducing your stress. You may need to face your fears, learn new facts about your symptoms, stop avoiding, learn tolerance for some experiences, or change how you think, feel, and behave with respect to other people."
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