Halitosis that Leads to Anxiety
Many of those that suffer from halitosis find that they’ve developed a type of social anxiety as a result of their bad breath. This type of social anxiety is problematic, and unfortunately affects many people long after they’ve had an opportunity to improve the scent of their breath.
There are numerous reasons why both men and women may develop social anxiety which stems from their halitosis problem (even when chronic bad breath has already been cured). Some of these include:
- Reinforcement – if you fear your bad breath, you may find that on certain occasions your fear is particularly reinforced; for instance, social situations. While most people are easily able to ignore the breath of others (if they smell it at all), every once in a while it may appear as though someone is reacting to the smell, even if they’re reacting to something completely different. This reinforces the idea that you should be afraid of your halitosis, leading to further anxiety.
- Self-Consciousness – Part of being confident is trusting in yourself. The more you overthink what you do, the less confident you become. It’s not uncommon for halitosis to cause you to think too much about your breath, causing you to focus a great deal on yourself rather than on being the confident social person you want to be.
- Occasional Bad Breath – Even without chronic halitosis, it’s perfectly normal to have small bouts of bad breath as a result of simply eating something with a pungent smell (e.g. mature cheese, sardines, etc) or not having had a chance to brush your teeth, floss or brush your tongue. Many of those that have had halitosis in the past, possibly still suffering from it in the present, become filled with anxiety at the prospect of making their halitosis worse.
Clearly all these factors can be very damaging for one’s self esteem as they only make the problem worse. Anxiety is a stressful condition, and the more you let it affect you as a result of your fear of halitosis, the more difficult you will find it to overcome both conditions (it becomes a vicious cycle).
Anxiety Leading to Halitosis
What makes this more of an issue is that anxiety can also lead to halitosis. Studies have shown that anxiety can lead to dry mouth, which may itself cause halitosis. For those hoping to cure their bad breath, allowing themselves to be overcome with anxiety can increase that difficulty.
Reducing the Effects of Halitosis on Anxiety
The best strategy is to treat halitosis first. There are a variety of halitosis cures available depending on its causes, and if you can regain better breath it will be easier to manage your halitosis-induced anxiety. Once you’ve successfully dealt with most of the causes of your halitosis, the following should help you control the anxiety you experience:
- Have A Partner – Someone you trust that you can ask to smell your breath before a social event can be immensely beneficial. Most people keep their halitosis a secret and try to hide it, but the act of not knowing can increase anxiety. Testing your breath with a friend can be a big help.
- Keep Mints On You – A little mint goes a long way. It’s not necessarily about making your breath better (since you may have already cured your chronic halitosis and your breath is generally fine). It’s also about knowing that you have something on hand in the event you feel self-conscious. Simply pop a mint and you’ll know you’re good to go.
- Learn to Re-Read Faces – You should also re-train yourself to read faces. Many people with halitosis exhibit confirmation bias – they see someone react to something, and assume it is the result of their breath rather than any number of other factors around them. You’ll need to retrain yourself to read faces, which you can do by writing down the numerous alternative reasons someone will have made a face or gesture (for example, someone may simply be breathing in through their nose, or they may have had an unusual thought). Writing it down will force you to realize all of the ways that facial expressions can mean something other than how people react to your breath.
Finally, traditional anxiety treatment techniques are advantageous in reducing anxiety after you’ve cured your halitosis. Cure the halitosis first, and then use the above strategies to feel more relaxed and confident in public.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera had social anxiety that prevented him from reaching out to others, so now he tries to help people overcome that anxiety at www.calmclinic.com.