I saw many therapists during the time I suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and since then have also been around a large number of people who have also recovered. I can confidently say that I prefer the advice and guidance from the people with true success stories out there rather than a one hour sit down with a professional therapist. Here are the main reasons why:

1. They are relatable – they understand and can empathize with your problems. Finding someone else who has experienced anxiety or panic attacks is an empowering, exciting discovery. They have been where you are and can describe their own experiences that are similar to yours. It’s hard to describe the feeling of connection that comes with meeting someone who shares your mental health experiences. You realize that you are not alone and that you are not going crazy. This feeling does not come when you are sitting in a therapeutic setting, even with the most talented professional.

2. The new “Professionals” are free – one problem I had when seeing therapists was the incredible expense – up to $175 - $190 an hour. This gets prohibitively expensive quickly, so I could not go as often as I would like. Spending an hour with someone else who has gone through what I was going through was more cost effective – I always felt like I had learned so much from them, more so than my therapist, and all for a $2.00 cup of coffee!

3. The new “Professionals” are open and honest – they know what a terrifying and worrisome experience a panic attack can be, and people who have experienced them first-hand are naturally so grateful that there is life after suffering from such debilitating anxiety that they willingly share whatever information they may have that has helped them cope. A professional therapist has learned about anxiety and can share some coping skills with you, but you will never know for sure that they work, unlike what you will learn from someone who has been there.

4. The new anxiety “Professionals” have an inspiring story. Similar to reason #1, the simple fact that you are talking to someone who has been where you are and has overcome anxiety provides a source of inspiration and hope. Feeding off of this kind of success story will provide you with the encouragement you need to fight anxiety and panic. Unless you strike it rich and find a therapist who is also recovered from anxiety, you won’t get the same motivation from them.

5. The new “Professionals” don’t lead you on a path of coping or push you to stay on any medications. During my therapy sessions I would mostly be given different techniques on what to do when a panic attack strikes or what to do when worrying led me into a cycle of constant anxiety. They would also encourage me to take anti-anxiety medication which would only mask the symptoms. While having someone to listen to me was always helpful, I just never got the same feeling from them that I got when talking to someone who had coping skills that they had actually used and that had worked for them. That was what I needed the most.

Therapists are an extremely important component of the mental health community. However, sometimes talking to what I call the new “Professionals”, or previous anxiety and panic sufferers, is the key to long lasting and meaningful recovery.

Author's Bio: 

I go by the name The Anxious Athlete, why? Because for 6 years during my mid 20's to early 30's I was overwhelmed with fear. I lost great relationships with people due to my increasing anxiety levels during social interactions and my fears of being judged wrongly by people, I went completely broke and in debt due to the limited time I could put into my career as a professional tennis player and my panic attacks led me to the emergency on a regular basis. With 36 different pills and powders in my cabinet as well as a failed attempt to try every miracle cure on the market, I took matters into my own hands and came up with a natural plan to end my mental health problems, now I live an incredible and grateful life and the time has come to share my secrets with the world.