Your Anxiety is Making You Act Stupider Than You Actually Are

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Hey, Nervous Nellies! Did you know that in addition to eating away at your stomach lining and causing your blood pressure to spike and making you so disablingly self-conscious that you can barely bring yourself to ask the waitress for more coffee, your unrelenting anxiety is actually hindering your brain's performance? That's right — a new study shows that anxiety-ridden women's brains have to work much harder to successfully perform the same tasks as their laid back counterparts.


According to new research conducted by Michigan State University scientists, lady basket cases have brains that are so busy working themselves into a lather that basic tasks can take a Herculean effort to complete. Researchers placed something called an "electrode cap" (which I hope and pray looks like those old timey devices that are supposed to improve a lady's complexion or alleviate stress but that actually looks like an alien mind control helmet) and measured the subjects' brain activity as they completed gradually more complex tasks. The largest amount of brain activity was recorded on uptight women who knew that they were making mistakes.

But before you jump up and down in an awkward victory dance as Winner of Most Brain Activity Ever, consider this: more brain activity doesn't necessarily translate to high performance (just ask anyone who's ever had a seizure). In fact, an unsettled mind trying to complete a simple task is the mental equivalent of setting the treadmill to the highest possible incline and trying to run the same distance as someone running flat next to you; you may still get to where you're going, but it's going to be a longer, much more exhausting process.

Further, scientists found that women were much more prone to be mentally wound up than the men they studied, which means that even though they may have been just as intelligent as their male counterparts, it took them longer to complete tasks, and the more difficult the tasks became, the more their self-doubt consumed them; women who were anxious performed worse on tasks as they increased in complexity. All that wasted energy! It's like leaving the air conditioner on when you leave the house and then wondering why your electric bill is a bajillion dollars!

Findings from the study, the first to measure error-related brain activity in worriers, will be published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology, and researchers hope that what they found will help them further understand anxiety disorders.

In the meantime, oh uptight women of the world, take a deep breath and do your best to calm down (masturbate) and not punch the next person who unhelpfully tells you to "relax" in the stomach. (Also, just an FYI, that extremely simple headline took me like 10 minutes to compose, on account of the fact that I'm anxiety ridden and my brain has to ride a unicycle up a goddamn mountain in order to do anything.)

[Science Daily]

Image via senkaya/Shutterstock



Uh huh. I'd be willing to hypothesize that some women experiencing anxiety have undiagnosed ADD. When your lobes aren't communicating well (the neurological basis of ADD) you're spacey, forgetful & make mistakes because you can't focus. Not knowing why you can't get it together causes serious anxiety & self doubt. Once I got the correct diagnosis and medication my anxiety abated tremendously. A minimal dose of Concerta plus ditching caffeine & exercise & some coaching made a big difference. I had some denial/anti-medication issues, but the difference when all the pieces fit is massive. I'll always have stuff to work on but you can't talk your way out of a chemical imbalance.