Those who suffer anxiety sometimes think that they are faulty and that they are unable to live up to their full potential. Of course, this is just another way the brain is tricking them into thinking that they are “less than” the rest of the world.
These thoughts are a symptom of distorted thinking. They are not the truth.
People with anxiety are not “less than” anyone else. In fact, recent studies are finding that anxiety sufferers actually may have a whole host of special abilities and qualities that make them exceptional.
So it seems, there really are upsides to anxiety. Let’s examine them!
Good in crisis
For some anxiety sufferers, life seems to go from crisis to crisis. While this is not pleasant, new research indicates that they may actually be better in real crisis situations.
This may sound strange, but stay with us.
The research out of France looked at how crisis effected the brains of anxious and non-anxious people. The results found that anxious people used a different part of their brain than non-anxious people during crisis situations.
The brain region used by anxious people during crisis is responsible for action. However the region used by non-anxious people is responsible for sensory things, like recognising faces.
As a result of this, researchers concluded that people with anxiety may be better at detecting and reacting to threats than their non-anxious buddies.
The lesson here is, that as an anxious person, you may be the best look-out for danger. The key to living a balanced life though, is to understand that you are poised to act. But try not to let the fear of crisis stop you from living a full life. Understand that you are hyper vigilant and more capable than you ever thought, of dealing with danger.
Anxiety has been linked with high IQ
Over-thinking can be an annoying, worry-inducing exercise in frustration for anxiety sufferers. But it seems that thinking may just be what anxiety sufferers do best!
One such study found that those with anxiety scored better on IQ tests, in particular verbal intelligence sections. Verbal intelligence is a person’s ability to use language to analyse and solve problems.
Another study which linked high IQ to anxiety found that people with anxiety may have more white matter in their brain, and this extra white matter may in fact speed up mental processes.
In a nutshell, research suggests that anxious people tend to have enquiring minds, they seek explanations, information, and answers. That’s a pretty good brain!
A kinder person
Social anxiety can really be a drain, but the flip side of it is that sufferers are usually hyper attuned to other people’s states of mind. In fact, studies have suggested that social anxiety sufferers may actually have higher empathy levels than those without the condition.
More empathy generally makes a person less judgmental, more understanding and an overall kinder person. So give yourself a break, you are doing the best you can. And if you get the chance, turn some of that empathy and understanding back on yourself and be kind to the fabulous person that you are!
Fewer fatal accidents
Anxious people are less likely to die in fatal accidents, according to research from the Institute for Psychiatry in London.
The study looked at figures from a national British survey of health outcomes and found that young people under the age of 25 who suffered from anxiety were less likely to die in accidents than those without anxiety.
“Our findings show, for the first time in a representative sample of humans, a relatively strong protective effect of trait anxiety”, the researchers said.
Assessing dangerous situations and avoiding them may very well be the reason for this protective aspect of anxiety.
The lesson here is that while assessing and avoiding danger is a powerful protective quality, that it is best not to let rational anxiety over real danger become confused with irrational, distorted fear. For tips on overcoming anxiety read our story on How to spot: anxiety.
So there you have it, anxiety does have its upsides. We’re not saying it’s a walk in the park, it can be cruel and it can be hard, but when it gets tough, remind yourself that you are not broken. Remind yourself that you have an amazing mind capable of really incredible things.
If you enjoyed reading this, and you want some more information on anxiety, depression or getting help, you should visit our Mental Health Matters section on this website. It’s packed full of info, tips and strategies for managing and overcoming mental health struggles.
Want to put your brain to work?
With over 150+ courses ranging across everything from accounting to science fiction writing, Open Colleges has a course for everyone! Study online, in your own time and at your own pace.