Brain Sciences is the journal that published the paper on the hidden benefits of anxiety.

The Hidden Benefits of Anxiety

Did you know that there are actually hidden benefits of some kinds of anxiety?

Anxiety happens when we feel worried or scared about something. It’s a natural response to a difficult situation. It can lead to an unpleasant agitated feeling, and trouble fulfilling obligations.

In the media, we rarely hear about the hidden benefits of anxiety. We’re only reminded of the negative effects that anxiety can have on our emotional wellbeing.

Anxiety can be overwhelming and disproportionate to the threat in question. An MDPI research study reveals, however, that in small doses, anxiety can have excellent health benefits. Let’s take a look at the benefits of anxiety.

Anxiety Can Improve Memory

In the paper published in Brain Sciences, authors Dr. Myra Fernandes and Christopher Lee provide evidence of one of the greatest benefits of anxiety. Improved ability to remember things.

The study focused on eighty University of Waterloo students with a range of levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. They split the group into low anxiety and high anxiety groups.

They showed the two groups images and words that either had ‘negative’ or ‘neutral’ feelings associated with them.

Image showing Figure 1 of the study. A car wreck to the left, and on the right, a docked cruise ship.

Figure 1 in the paper shows examples of negative (left) and neutral (right) images.

The results revealed a lot about anxiety and how our brains work in response to it.

The high anxiety group remembered the negative words more than they did the neutral words.

Likewise, the low anxiety group remembered the neutral words well, but didn’t remember the negative words as much.

This shows one of the most significant hidden benefits of anxiety. Having anxiety makes someone more likely to remember negative things, meaning they will be more alert to negative issues that arise. It therefore gives anxious people the edge in difficult situations.

Limitations to this Anxiety Benefit

However, there are limits to this. Dr. Fernandes, co-author, explains, ‘We know from other research that high levels of anxiety can cause people to reach a tipping point, which impacts their memories and performance.’

This suggests that anxiety can only benefit an individual to a certain degree before it starts becoming a problem. Extremely high levels of anxiety can instead lead to issues with memory and concentration.

Other Hidden Benefits of Anxiety

It has also been found that highly anxious people are more likely to live longer. Along with other neuroses, studies have found a positive correlation between being mildly anxious and having a higher life expectancy.

There are more hidden benefits of anxiety. Higher levels of anxiety have also been associated with higher levels of empathy. The theory goes that, because anxious people usually have experience with traumatic events, they can empathize more strongly with others who do.

Because of the amount of adrenaline released, anxiety also increases our motivation to get work done and complete tasks. It creates a sense of urgency in the body.

Increased Research into the Hidden Benefits of Anxiety

More and more research is being conducted when it comes to anxiety.

Anxiety can affect anyone. As noted, high levels of anxiety can be extremely detrimental to people’s mental health.

With this in mind, we’re calling for more people to contribute new studies to the academic community, related to the benefits of anxiety.

Notably, the Journal of Clinical Medicine, Brain Sciences, and Healthcare provide outlets for this meaningful research.

As well as this, the Special Issue ‘The Impact of Anxiety, Depression, and Stress on Mental Health’ in IJERPH is open for submission until the 28th of February 2023.

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