Anxiety and Emotional Sensitivity

by F.

Yeah, it’s a lot of fun to have anxiety. The constant worrying. The obsessive thoughts. Biting your nails until they bleed. Luckily, there’s an upside. Sort of. According to Science Daily,

when highly anxious adults were forced to take the same amount of time as everyone else [to make emotional assessments of others], they were able to judge emotional states more accurately than less-anxious adults…. “We [also] found that highly anxious people tended to judge the change in facial expressions faster than less-anxious people….”

Cool! Fast and sensitive. But, of course, there’s a price to pay:

Importantly, highly anxious individuals also tended to make more perceptual errors than less-anxious individuals….

Jeez, this is really starting to worry me. Fuck! And it gets worse:

This ‘hair trigger’ style of perceptual sensitivity may be one reason why highly anxious people experience greater conflict in their relationships…

The irony is that they have the ability to make their judgments more accurately than less-anxious people, but, because they are so quick to make judgments about others’ emotions, they tend to mistakenly infer other people’s emotional states and intentions.

Fast, sensitive, and wrong. And now I have to go downstairs to make sure (again) that I took my Prozac this morning. But will I still be fast and sensitive?

Probably not. I remember right after I started taking it how liberated I felt from… others’ feelings. Yes, it’s true. My empathy seemed to go down, almost toward zero if I let it. As an child, I worried that if I didn’t play with one of my toys, I would hurt it’s feelings. I don’t just mean the stuffed animals, either. I mean the Tonka trucks. They had feelings, too, you know. Then, after Prozac, I would pass by an abject homeless schizophrenic and think, “Oh well. Shit happens.” I was like most people. It sure made life easier.

Hat Tip: Mind Hacks. Have I already told you to buy the book, too? Well, why haven’t you? It’s gold.