Having to deal with any sort of mental health issue is never easy. It changes how you see the world, how you process your thoughts, and, most of the time, adds an extra layer of struggle that you have to push through just to make it through the day.
It's not easy, and anyone who has to deal with this every day is nothing short of amazing. The strength you display is unmatched all on its own, but did you know that you might have other talents granted to you by this way that your brain is wired?
Close To Home
Anxiety isn't only a common mental health affliction, it's the most common. It affects roughly 40 million adults across the United States alone, which is about 18% of the U.S. population. It varies in intensity, going from general nerves in public to fear so bad you can't leave your home, and it can vary in focus, with some people having acute social or medical anxiety, for example.
Anyone who suffers from extreme or intense forms of anxiety knows how troubling it can be, but what if there was a silver lining? What if having anxiety granted you gifts in other areas?
A research team at Lakehead University ran a study that proved that people with anxiety are more verbally intelligent. Another study from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya discovered that people with anxiety are better at maintaining focus, even when presented with distractions or environmental threats.
This same team also found that people with anxiety show signs of something called sentinel intelligence, meaning they're able to recognize dangers that those without anxiety didn't notice (think the smell of smoke from a fire, people with anxiety picked up on it far sooner than non-anxiety havers)
An Enhanced Mind
That's not all. The SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York also did a study that involved a group of participants with generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. They then performed an IQ test against some control groups, and the results found that those with GAD scored much higher than people either without anxiety or with milder cases of anxiety.
Their working theory is that "an anxious mind is a searching mind" since, due to their anxiety, these people are also examining the world around them for perceived threats and information. This constant excess processing of information means they develop better cognitive skills as they're growing up.
More In Tune
Another study published by the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Biotechnology Information focused on those with social anxiety disorder in particular. Their thesis was, "Individuals with social phobia (SP) show sensitivity and attentiveness to other people's states of mind."
The results? They were right. A large portion of the participants showed great sensitivity to the emotions of others, so much so that they could easily be considered empaths. As they wrote, "[Highly]-socially-anxious individuals demonstrate a unique profile of social-cognitive abilities with elevated cognitive empathy tendencies and high accuracy in effective mental state attributions."
The Strength Within
Skilled empaths can be very powerful if they choose to hone their skills. They have amazing intuitive capabilities, ones that could become near-psychic if they practice it enough. However, as much as anxiety seems to be a precursor for such empathetic strength, it can also be what prevents someone from realizing this ability, getting in their head and convincing them their talents aren't real.
Know this, if you feel that pull inside, that connection to something greater, it's so, so worth exploring. The potential strength you carry isn't something that should be denied. Push past your usual worries and have faith in yourself, you're much more powerful than you know.