Anxiety is nature’s biological way of communicating that there is something around that necessitates one’s attention. These may be about the environment, medicine intakes, and brain chemical imbalances as well as drug abuse. The effects of the factors that induce anxiety may vary among individuals and with each conditions and the duration may range from a few hours to days or even months. Generally cases of anxiety are allowed to pass and an individual may well perform normally. Psychologists promote the idea that this feeling can be good at normal level as it is needed for the daily interaction of an individual to the society as a whole. However there are circumstances when anxiety disorder needs prompt attention especially when it affects an individual’s performance or relationships.
A diagnosis from a medical expert is needed to identify the factors that trigger anxiety. Currently, the medical field has yet to come up with a laboratory examination that can identify anxiety disorders. However, clinical psychologists presented symptoms that are associated with anxiety disorder, a) extreme worrying and anxiousness on different thoughts or occurrences that may unduly last for several days, b) an uncontrollable worrying and, c) exhibition of numerous symptoms such as being restless, irritable, muscle tension and inability to sleep or concentrate among others.
Anxiety, when carried to an extent can adversely affect an person’s way of living and relationship with others. It often distracts and impairs one’s normal cognitive reasoning resulting to incapacitated or disruptive personality. This paper aims to study several researches that were aimed to reveal how anxiety alters cognitive reasoning, touching on the possible effects of brain region sensitivity to emotional distraction and anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are the most dominant among all the other mental health illnesses, affecting the majority of lifetime mental health problems worldwide (Vytal et al, 2013). For this reason, the research on anxiety disorders is a necessary step for public health as it gives a substantial aid on the concerns of emotional, social, and financial encumbrances that does not only affect individuals but also other people around him and the society as a whole. In addition to the apparent emotional effects of the disorder, people who are afflicted with anxiety shows struggle with concentration and are easily distracted. Consequently, these adversely affect their performance at work as well as their social relationships.
Among the widespread notion about the relationship between anxiety and memory/cognition is that the disorder can impair normal cognitive functioning by imposing limits to accomplish goal directed tasks (Vytal et al, 2013). There is a difficulty in duplicating cases of anxiety-related impairment during experiments, but indicators reveal that working memory is diminished among the population of the participating individuals especially those who are suffering from trait anxiety.
Normal processing of working memory is essential to healthy functioning as it enables one to normally interrelate with other people such as in carrying a reasonable conversation and other interactive activities. The effect of anxiety in disrupting cognition is perceived to be a reflection of the presence of attention bias when anxiety has gone far as to alter the sensory, perception and attention processes. It is hypothesized that the neural connects of emotion-cognition interactions in typical behavior has effects for understanding factors that may stimulate susceptibility to emotional disorders, particularly to anxiety disorders (Robinson et al, 2013).
People who suffer from anxiety show symptomatic expression of intrusive thoughts and feelings in addition to irregular attention span as manifested by distractibility and impairment of concentration. These manifestations are suggestive of what clinical psychologists call as attention bias for threat, that is, anxiety patients often are characterized by an inclination to “detect and process threat-related information, which interferes with performance in various attentional tasks” (Robinson et al, 2013). This is supported by a study claiming that anxiety reduces the capacity of the working memory due to competition in the executive process of the brain, so a more intense anxiety and a more difficult tasks results to greater disruption (Vytal et al, 2013).
This claim is based on the proposal that worry reduces processing efficiency
and increases the amount of effort necessary to perform a task. Alternatively
component the two- model claims that anxious apprehension disrupts working
memory performance accuracy, and that this disruption is greatest when working
memory tasks are easy because there are free resources for anxious apprehension
anxiety on verbal versus spatial working memory based on competition for a
separate combination of resources. The assertion is that high-load verbal
working memory impairment abolishes the impact of anxiety by engaging top-down
emotional control mechanisms (Robinson et al, 2013).
Studies reveal an increased unanimity on the indication that anxiety stimulates attentional bias for threat and has a damaging influence on control progressions. Exhibition of bias for threat is manifested by sensitivity to minor negligible threats that in turn results to an anxious behaviour. Attentional bias is commonly evident in anxiety disorders, dispositional anxiety, and state anxiety. Generally, attentional deficits in control are observed in clinical and dispositional anxiety, but not for anxiety induced by threat of shock (Robinson et al, 2013). In a recent experiment, induced-anxiety is linked with imporved attention control (Robinson et al, 2013) probably due to an improved discernment and cognitive control.
“Memory encompasses processes involved in the encoding, storage, and retrieval of information” (Robinson), and a recent fundamental study on the effect of anxiety on verbal working memory discovered that cognitive load has a major impact on anxiousness. Basing on the apprehension component of the research, it was revealed that anxious worry lessens working memory ability (Vytal et al, 2013). There is a strong effect of anxiety in decreasing memory and it may disrupt spatial and verbal reasoning (Vytal et al, 2013).
Despite the negative effect of anxiety to cognition and memory, anxiousness can also be helpful in some instances. Anxiety can be an important component of everybody’s survival as it helps in the processing and defensive responding to stimulus (Vytal et al, 2013). It is for this reason that people should not always think of anxiety in bad light. Often times, people needs it for its motivational effect as it became a driving factor that encourage people to do things better. While studies show that anxiety decreases attention span, this is because the attention is diverted to other concerns, often this is another way to shift ones focus to things that are vital in one’s life.
The concepts provided by this research revealed anxiety can negatively affect attention span and it can distort the memory as well as impede the normal functioning of the brain. By the results of the study, it is realized that anxiety can have negative effect to a person’s well-being and interrelationships. The initial signs of anxiety were discussed in the first section of this paper and it is helpful to know these symptoms in order to understand other people who are going through the illness.
Accordingly, anxiety is a normal part of every existence. However, the research reveals that too much of this can disrupt normal human functioning. For instance, it can readily limit an individual’s attention span and a limited attention can have detrimental effect at home, at work and in any other settings. A distracted attention can be damaging, for example, a person who is suffering from anxiety may not be able to execute a well performed job due to disturbed attention. Anxiety may impede a learner’s ability to comprehend and retain the academic topics due to their limited and distracted attention span.
The research also revealed that people who have severe anxiety tend to be threatened by negligible incidents. The “threat biased” as mentioned in this paper speaks of the abnormal mental processing of an individual on a perceived threat despite being negligible. While others may perceive this to be a manifestation of irrational fear, they should understand that a person who suffers from anxiety find it difficult to shake off the fear. It is suggested that family members should be wary of the predicament of an individual who have to struggle with this type of disorder. As much as possible, help should be available to patients in order to minimize the stress that they are going through.
Anxiety can impair normal cognitive functioning by imposing limits to accomplish goal directed task. This effect of anxiety imposes an injurious effect not only to the person who is suffering from it, but also to that of the people around him. This is because some of the sufferers of anxiety go through their day worrying over simple or negligible matters. They are often filled with the fear that something bad will happen and that thought prevents them from enjoying their life. Their exaggerated worrying results to an abnormal effect on their brain that makes them act and appear irrational. It is unfortunate that people who suffer from anxiety have to go through their day thinking about intrusive thoughts. While they can function normally during a milder case of anxiety, people with this illness have to deal with utmost difficulty during an attack of severe anxiousness.
The several researches and experiments about anxiety are helpful in understanding the causes, possible prevention and treatment of the disease. In the three researches from where this research is based, they concentrated on the possible cause and effect of anxiety on cognition, attention and memory. While the experiments have their limitations such as their inability to get a larger scope of subjects and experiments, still the work is creditable enough from which to based further studies.
It is with hope that this disease can be diagnosed with accuracy in order to be able to come up with better prevention and treatment. But with the current number of studies being directed to it, the time is near when this illness will no longer afflict millions of individuals for a long time. Currently, this illness is viewed in its complexity, but scholars were already able to point some of its causes such as genetic, environment and even medications.
How the topic affects me
The research is insightful and meaningful enough in explaining anxiety. It gave an understanding on how best to comprehend this illness such as in knowing the different symptoms of anxiety. I am not too conscious about it before, but during the research I was able to know that this disorder can cause other problems to the human body.
This research opened that feeling anxiousness is a normal reaction of an individual to worrisome situations. It is a usual part of life and, in fact without it, a person cannot normally cope with his daily existence. This feeling should only last a few hours or even days but must not be too excessive as to affect one’s health and other aspects of life. Extreme anxiety is different; its intensity may overwhelm a person making him too depressed at times. This research has helped me become aware of the warning signs of anxiety such as extreme worrying, undue thoughts, tense muscles and sometimes depression and isolation.
Further into the research, I have come across that anxiety can cause a limitation on one’s attention span and memory. I may not be aware of it but there are cases when I fail in remembering occasions or even dates due to numerous responsibilities. Though I may well be far from experiencing an unhealthy anxiety, it reflects the fact that too much thinking and worrying can greatly affects the functioning of the brain.
I have learned that there is a way to overcome anxiety with the help of other people. Generally, those who are afflicted with this illness found it difficult to shake off the symptoms, but proper medical attention is helpful in managing the disorder. While there is no diagnostic test to completely monitor anxiety, clinical psychologists are now adept in addressing the symptoms of this disorder.
Anxiety is a natural feeling that comes to every human being; it is a natural experience that is actually needed for a person’s survival. However, too much of this emotion can be detrimental to a person’s well-being as anxiety may interfere with the normal functioning of an individual. There are signs of anxiety that one must be wary for an earlier detection of this disorder. These may range from undue worrying, tension, irritability and excessive thoughts of threats among others. An early diagnosis of the illness can be helpful in relieving the patient of his silent struggle.
Anxiety cases that are not immediately attended may result to the dysfunction of an individual. It may lead to attention dysfunction as an anxious person is often consumed by other thoughts that he may not be aware of more important things at hand. His memory may also be impaired and this can greatly affect how he performs his work.
Several researchers are directed on their quest to reveal more on the true causes and proper treatment of anxiety. Most are concentrated on the workings of the brain and on how to formulate preventive measures against anxiety. But while scholars have yet to fully explain the details, what people can do is to have an understanding heart for people who are afflicted with the illness. It may be uncomfortable to deal with people with anxiety due to their often irrational behaviour but it is the only means by which they can be helped.
Denkova, E., Wong, G., Dolcos, S., Sung, K., Wang, L., Coupland, N., Dolcos, F., (2013). The impact of anxiety-inducing distraction on cognitive performance: A combined brain imaging and personality investigation. US National Library of Medicine.
Robinson, K., Cornwell, B., Grillon, C. Vytal. (2013). The impact of anxiety upon cognition: perspectives from human threat of shock. US National Library of Medicine.
Vytal, K., Cornwell, B., Arkin, N. Letkiewicz, A., Grillon, C., (2013). The complex interaction between anxiety and cognition: Insight from spatial and verbal working memory. US Library of Medicine.