• Neuroscience Behind Anxiety: Cognitive Effects Across Anxiety Disorders

      Barron, Molly (Temple University. Grey Matters, 2021-12)
      It’s normal to feel anxious about everyday stressors, like the first day of school, getting a tattoo, or finances. But at a certain point, anxiety can become much more than just a worrisome feeling. Clinical anxiety is an apprehensive expectation or an excessive worry that remains constant and is difficult to control [1]. The distinction between anxiety and clinical anxiety is important to point out. To say you have clinical anxiety, diagnosed as an anxiety disorder, is to say that anxiety causes significant distress or impairment in daily functioning [2]. It is important to note that mental illness carries a stigma in our society. Because of this, there are common misconceptions surrounding mental illnesses, namely anxiety. Clinical anxiety is as real as any physical illness—it should be treated with the same compassion. A major consequence of anxiety is that it can impair cognition, otherwise known as “information processing” in the brain [3]. Specific areas of cognition affected by clinical anxiety may include attention/control, memory, executive functioning, sensory-perceptual processing, etc. [3]. The highlight of this analysis will be the effects of clinical anxiety on attention specifically. By examining the relationship between clinical anxiety and cognition, we are able to address a common symptom of anxiety. With the help of applicable scientific findings, the goal of this article is to unpack the altered cognitive performance brought on by clinical anxiety.