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Beware of Anxiety Scams on the Internet

job-question-woman-typing-laptop-computerAnxiety affects 40 million Americans. When there is that big of a market, you can rest assured that there will be scams claiming to be able to treat it. How are you supposed to scrutinize and evaluate the many different anxiety websites out there? Which ones are scams, and which are legitimate? Here are some red flags to look for:

Lack of professional credentials.

I see many anxiety self-help websites from people without professional credentials. While anxiety sufferers themselves may have much to offer from their experiences, only therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists are trained to treat mental health disorders. When someone without professional credentials writes a book on how to treat anxiety, you should not take this person’s advice. You risk bad outcomes for yourself.

Promise of quick fixes and cures.

Guess what: There are no quick fixes for anxiety. Addressing anxiety involves real work. Only mental health professionals can apply evidence-based techniques and therapy interventions.

Ideally, look for anxiety websites run by mental health professionals.

Not evidence-based.

If the website does not cite any studies for the anxiety intervention they are selling, it is not evidence-based. Avoid it.

Does not offer useful, free advice.

Some websites are full of marketing scripts focused only on getting you to buy their product. Why would you buy from a site that has no authority and expertise in anxiety? Trust only websites run by mental health professionals with expertise in anxiety. Look at the expert’s research grants and publications in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Focus on pop psychology.

Pop psychology uses psychological concepts to explain and assign causal relationships between life events and mental processes. It has no scientific backing for its oversimplified assertions. For instance, maybe a website on anxiety claims that you have anxiety because you don’t let go as much, so you have to shout more to let it out. Or you are anxious as an adult because your mother did not hold you enough when you were a baby.

Pop psychology is big business. It will give you what you want to hear, but it will not address your anxiety. It is just for entertainment.

So which website are you going to trust? Do you want to be entertained, or do you want actual help for your anxiety? When you need help choosing which anxiety website to trust, please heed these red flags.

Beware of Anxiety Scams on the Internet

Carlo Carandang, MD

Dr. Carlo Carandang, MD, is a psychiatrist and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He has over 15 years experience treating patients with anxiety and depression. Dr. Carandang has 34 publications and 6 research grants in the areas of anxiety, depression, psychosis, and psychopharmacology. He has been on the faculty of two medical schools teaching medical students, residents, and doctors, and has been a member of the medical staff of multiple hospitals in the USA and Canada. Dr. Carandang is the founder of, and author of Anxiety Protocol.

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APA Reference
Carandang, C. (2018). Beware of Anxiety Scams on the Internet. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 27 May 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.