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Glamour – Anxiety Can Seriously Mess With Your Judgment

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New research published by  Cell Press suggests that anxiety can seriously mess with your judgment. The study found that people who suffer from anxiety disorders are less able to distinguish actual threat from situations that are uncomfortable or ambiguous. Instead, anxious people demonstrated overgeneralization, a tendency to think that once one bad thing happens, it will happen again, and in more ways. For example, once you make a mistake in front of your boss, you start to worry that every conversation with your boss, or coworker, could put you at risk for similar humiliation.

To help give context to these findings, Glamour asked if I was surprised by these findings, and what these new data might mean for people struggling with anxiety. I was very pleased to weigh in. To read the full article by Korin Miller at Glamour, click HERE.

 

What’s going on here? “Sometimes our anxiety response can get overwhelmed,” explains licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D. “It can be hard for anxious people to distinguish between situations that are stressful, or uncomfortable, and those that are truly dangerous.”

 

As a result, an anxious person can feel overwhelmed and even lose confidence in their ability to accurately read a situation, leading to more bad decisions. “It is easy to lose confidence in your judgment when everything feels overwhelming,” says Clark.

 

If you tend to run a little high on the anxiety scale, Clark says you can work to keep it from clouding your judgment. Her recommendation: Keep in mind that you can handle a stressful situation and the anxiety that comes with it. “How you think about anxiety is fundamental to how you can handle anxiety,” she says.

 

Instead, she recommends embracing anxiety as a positive thing and a way to motivate yourself. If you can achieve that, your good judgment will follow. “If you don’t fight with or resist it, you will be much more like to access its positive energy,” she says. “Anxiety is not in itself bad, but how we perceive it can be.”

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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