How This Disorder Can Ruin Your Life By Impeding Decision-Making

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By: Krystle Crossman

Many people have the unfortunate task of dealing with anxiety every single day. They go through life differently than those who do not have anxiety issues. These issues can range from a slight discomfort when thinking about an upcoming event or a full blown panic attack when doing something “normal” such as grocery shopping or driving. Anxiety can be very debilitating for those who suffer with it and a new study out of the University of California – Berkeley shows that it can be worse than people may think.

The study was conducted on 31 participants. Some of them had no anxiety issues, some had light to moderate anxiety, and others had full-blown anxiety. They were given two shapes. Each of these shapes had a number on them. They had to choose one of these two shapes and if they chose the “wrong” one they would receive a shock. The number on the shape indicated how severe the shock would be. There were shapes that didn’t send out any shocks at all and others that sent out pretty moderate shocks. Sometimes the shapes with no shocks would come out first. The purpose was to see how each person handled their decision-making after they received the shocks.

What they found was that the participants that had high anxiety levels completely shut down. They were so terrified that they were going to pick the wrong shape that they ended up not picking up on the pattern in the game and they became flustered and got shocked more times than they should have. They were not able to process the outcome of the next round as well as those who did not have anxiety issues. How does this apply to life outside of the lab? Every day we make decisions. Some have big consequences if we choose the wrong path. People with anxiety are not able to make these decisions well, if at all because they are so afraid of making the wrong decision. This can be very detrimental to their work, their home life, and their finances. In the long run if these anxiety issues are not harnessed and treated they could ruin someone’s life completely.

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