How do you respond to life’s uncertainties?

If you’re an anxious person, you might have a tougher time reading the environmental cues around you, according to a new study published in Nature Neuroscience. This could lead you to make bad decisions at work and in your close relationships.

The study focuses on anxious people’s tendency to “catastrophize.” For example, you might interpret mild criticism of your work from a boss or client as a doomsday sign you’re getting fired. This, in turn, might affect your ability to respond appropriately.

The challenge for an anxious person is assessing the full context of an uncertain situation. For example, if a friend brushes you off, this may reflect their mood or other factors in their life -- it doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is on the rocks.

The study, led by scientists at University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Oxford, hints at a glitch in the brain’s “higher-order decision-making circuitry, which could eventually be targeted in the treatment of anxiety disorders, which affect 40 million American adults.”


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But there are techniques for combatting your “catastrophizing” ways! In light of the new study, some researchers advise being fully aware of what’s happening in a given situation, and asking yourself, “What’s causing me to feel this way?” This could help you from getting overwhelmed and imagining worst-case scenarios.

There are also some benefits to being anxiety prone, possibly even making us better leaders. Some argue that anxiety helps us focus on a task and deliver a peak performance.

Read the full article from UC Berkeley News Center here. Do you think anxiety has ever impaired your decision-making abilities?