The other day, a jovial group of teenagers was approaching as I strolled along. In my past, being the direct focus of attention by such a group like this would have sent a surge of stress hormones through my body. Today it didn’t bother me, though, because when I felt the anxiety coming on, I counteracted my knee jerk social anxiety a special anxiety anti-venom. But suddenly the pressure grew when one of the young men, holding a tennis ball, yelled toward me, “hey! Catch!” and lobbed it high into the air and down the hill in my direction. It was a good throw and under non-stressful circumstance would have been easy to catch. But now I was really the center of attention as every single eyeball fixed on me. I mentally fumbled as I tried to focus on it hurling towards me—but it whizzed past my outstretched hand without even touching it. I was embarrassed but then quickly put the embarrassment aside as I smiled at them and walked ahead. My brain suggested I should say something witty because that would be cool, but I reminded myself that it wasn’t necessary unless I really wanted to. So I continued on my walk relatively unfazed. “Nice group of teenagers having fun,” I thought.
In the past, because of my social anxiety, an episode like that would have stressed me a great deal. And yet I contemplated how potent the momentary social pressure was at decreasing my ability to focus on the ball and catch it. What a metaphor, I thought, for how anxiety can decrease functioning in every area of our lives. in this article, I’m going to describe how anxiety affects our emotions and our effectiveness in life. Some consequences of anxiety are obvious, and some are not. My intention is NOT to increase your stress! I want to help motivate you to make getting rid of anxiety a high priority and point you towards ways of overcoming it. You can overcome anxiety and its effects. You’re never too anxious to learn to be calm and happy.
Anxiety’s Effect on Happiness
Anxiety is a direct and leading cause of depression. The hormonal, mental, emotional, and metabolic effects of stress all combine to make depression a major effect of anxiety. Anxiety can lead to drug abuse and addictions as an escape.
Anxiety also leads to a decrease in motivation, drive, and confidence. It is a leading cause of lost productivity at work which affects your career and income levels. It affects your ability to take healthy risks and pursue your dreams. It keeps you small and worried about what other people will think of you.
Anxiety’s Effects on Mental Function
Any type of anxiety, be it social anxiety, generalized anxiety, or any other type, usually leads to a decrease (sometimes drastic) in mental function. In fact, researchers have tested the effects of anxiety on IQ test scores. It turns out that simply knowing others will see your IQ test results causes enough anxiety to cause people to score lower than they otherwise would.
Anxiety affects the brain’s ability to focus on the task at hand. Anxiety decreases problem-solving skills in all areas, and leads to cloudy thinking and decision making.
Anxiety’s Effects on Relationships
Anxiety shuts down the brain’s ability to connect with others emotionally and empathically. Thus, relationships suffer. Anxiety leads to isolation in and of itself, but when coupled with depression as it often is, anxiety can lead to even more social isolation. Anxiety and stress cause interpersonal conflict when empathy wanes and others are viewed in a less humane way. On the other hand, peace and calm lead to a deep respect and caring for others that improves relationships.
Anxiety’s Effects on the Children of Sufferers
Since children are so completely dependent on their parents for their livelihood, when a parent is stressed or has chronic anxiety, the child can receive multiple negative effects. Children mimic their parent’s emotional states and responses to situations, so they can copy their parent’s fears and anxieties. They can learn to be anxious. Also, the parent-child connection can suffer and the child may not feel as much love and guidance because the parent is distracted by anxiety. Extremely anxious parents can be neglectful or even abusive, even when they are otherwise good people, because of increased stress and “fight, flight or freeze” response to stress.
Extreme stress during pregnancy even affects the development of the baby.
Anxiety’s Effects on Health
Stress and anxiety have a host of documented health effects, from lowered life expectancy, to increased risk of heart disease and cancer, and even to increased risk of diabetes. Anxiety can also lead to lost sleep, emotional over-eating, and other detrimental health behaviors.
You Can Overcome Anxiety!
Remember that anxiety can be overcome! There are easy things you can do to overcome anxiety and live a happier, fulfilling, successful life. So please sign up to get the CD I am producing called How to Overcome Anxiety and Depression. It describes the most effective ways to overcome anxiety step by step and enjoy life as soon as possible.