All of us have experienced anxiety at one point or another in our lives, from starting a new job to preparing for a tough exam, it happens to the best of us. For those of you living with anxiety disorders, however, the level of anxiety you experience is on a whole other level. Anxiety disorders affect a significant portion of the American population with an estimated 18.1% of U.S. adults aged 18 years or older living with anxiety disorders as of 2003 (1).
Normal Anxiety VS Anxiety Disorders
The anxiety typically experienced by people entails a normal reaction, such as stress, to uncertain situations (2). These symptoms differ from what those of you living with an anxiety disorder may experience, such as hyperarousal, fear that can be counterproductive, and/or excessively worry about things (3). Learn more about the symptoms of anxiety disorders here. Although the symptoms of anxiety disorders can be quite debilitating, worry not – there are some silver linings to living with anxiety.
5 Silver Linings for Living with Anxiety
1. Having a Higher Than Average IQ
Those of you living with generalized anxiety disorder have higher IQs (4). Studies have found that a high degree of worry in patients often corresponds positively with intelligence (4). Since humans are the most intelligent species (4), it must be assuring to know you are one of the smartest living beings on Earth!
2. Being More Effective at Alerting Others to a Threat
Attachment-related anxiety has been associated with a heightened propensity to deliver warning messages without delay (5). In a study that led participants to believe they’d unintentionally activated a computer virus, anxious individuals were consistently less willing to delay their warning message to a computer technician (5). That means that if you suffer with anxiety, you’re a vital team member to have in any serious situation.
3. Living a Longer Life
Neuroticism, also known as trait anxiety, has been associated with a reduced risk of dying from accidental causes in early adulthood (6). In a population-based, cohort study of 4,070 men and women conducted in the UK, it was found that adolescents with low trait anxiety often had higher rates of accidental mortality up to age 25 (6). A reduced risk of dying is a pretty great benefit that comes along with having anxiety.
4. Your Friends Like You More Than You Think
In a study on participants with social anxiety and their friends, each party was asked to rate their friendship (7). The findings indicated that friends’ ratings tended to be more positive than the person with social anxiety (7). It’s always nice to know you’re being perceived as a high quality friend!
5. You’re More Creative
Creative thinking has been associated with anxiety disorder in adolescents (8). A study of 517 Iranian adolescents in Tehran found that there was a high correlation between creative thinking and anxiety (8). A creative mind is one of the greatest qualities we can have so consider yourself lucky!
Living with an anxiety disorder isn’t a walk in the park for anybody. It can be easy to fall into the trap of focusing on only the negatives that come with anxiety, but you have to remind yourself of all the awesome attributes that make you you! Learn more about natural techniques that can be used to manage your anxiety and help you live up to your full potential here!
(1) Kessler, R.C., Chiu, W.T., Demler, O., Merikangas, K.R., Walters, E.E. (2005, June). Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 62 (6), 617-627. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15939839/
(2) Generalized Anxiety Disorder vs. General Anxiety About Your Finances. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/generalized-anxiety-disorder-vs-general-anxiety-about-your-finances
(3) Remes, O., Brayne, C., van der Linde, R., Lafortune, L. (2016, June 5). A systematic review of reviews on the prevalence of anxiety disorders in adult populations. Brain and Behaviour, 6 (7). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4951626/
(4) Coplan, J.D., Hodulik, S., Mathew, S.J., Mao, X., Hof, P.R., Gorman, J.M., and Shungu, D.C. (2012, February). The relationship between intelligence and anxiety: an association with subcortical white matter metabolism. Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience, 3 (8). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3269637/pdf/fnevo-03-00008.pdf
(5) Ein-Dor, T. & Tal, O. (2012). Sacred saviours: Evidence that people in high attachment anxiety are more effective in alerting others to a theat. European Journal of Social Psychology. Retrieved from http://portal.idc.ac.il/he/schools/psychology/homepage/documents/tsachi-scared%20saviors.pdf
(6) Lee, W.E., Wadsworth, M.E., Hotopf, M. (2006, January 5). The protective role of trait anxiety: a longitudinal cohort study. Psychology Med, 36 (3), 345-351. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16393365
(7) Jarrett, C. (2014, December 4). Suffer from extreme social anxiety? Your friends probably like you more than you realise. Research Digest. Retrieved from https://digest.bps.org.uk/2014/12/04/suffer-from-extreme-social-anxiety-your-friends-probably-like-you-more-than-you-realise/
(8) Tabrizi, E.A., Talib, M.A., Yaacob, S.N. (2011, December). Relationship Between Creative Thinking and Anxiety Among Adolescent Boys and Girls in Tehran, Iran. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 1, (19). Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/de59/78106c279ab7152bcd9a8735f20365267672.pdf
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