Khan Academy's take on Generalized Anxiety Disorder

If you have a 6 minutes to spare and you haven't run out of your data plan for the month yet (the way I have), take a look at the Khan Academy Generalized Anxiety video on your way to work in tomorrow's Lyft. The bad news is since you're already reading this, you already know that you or someone you love has GAD. You also already know, for the most part, everything you are going to see in the video.

This makes me wonder: Who is the video for, exactly?

  • It's not for people who have GAD and are diagnosed. We don't talk about it the way that Matthew Twohig does, in that "list of worry behaviors" manner. We don't like to think about our worry too much cause it stresses us out.
  • It's not for people who have GAD and are undiagnosed. They wouldn't recognize themselves in it. If I had seen it 6 months before I was diagnosed, I would have neatly pushed away a video like this. It doesn't speak to me for all of the reasons I laid out in my initial FAQ article.  

This makes me think it's for people who don't have GAD. But who would be googling GAD that doesn't have GAD? It's an odd audience, isn't it? Is it some sort of casual bystanders of GAD?

This is the problem I have with 90% of the writing about GAD online. It comes from medical professionals, but it's totally disconnected from the experience of GAD itself. It means well, but it just doesn't work. They can speak in a breezy tone, like they do in the Khan Academy video, but until they start to fundamentally change their appraoch, and think about who they are really speaking to, they are going to miss the mark.

My advice is to start from a blank sheet. Talk to your users. Interview us with an open mind. We are overthinkers who experience physical symptoms. We often avoid treatment or medication until we desperately need it. We try to figure everything out and we Google like crazy. We are achievers. Get to know us, medical professionals. See the world from our eyes, and start from there.

Talk to some product managers if you need some lessons in how to do this. I happen to know how to reach a few if you need help in figuring out where to start...