How does worry affect the brain?

Stress, anxiety, permanent tiredness, lack of energy, pessimism … The way it affects worry to the brain is toxic, we push all our emotional resources to the limit until we experience a constant sense of threat.


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  • Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence

The way it affects worry to the brain can be summed up in one word: toxic. Thus, and although this psychological reality is no more than a natural emotion when we perceive a threat, in reality, many of our concerns are unfounded and even obsessive, leading us to states of great exhaustion in which we lose energy, mood and all glimpse of motivation

Something that we know well from a psychological point of view is that the effects of worrying too much can be even more dangerous than what really worries us . It seems like a pun, but it really goes further. When we derive in those states in which stress intensifies and distorts even the smallest detail, everything ends up out of control, we make the worst decisions and emotional distress intensifies.

An example, the more we become obsessed with our poor quality of sleep, the more insomnia we will suffer . The more we worry about showing ourselves effective and perfect in our job, the more mistakes we will make. Moreover, if we worry too much that our partner stops loving us, we will create situations in which the other person feels more pressured and uncomfortable.

Thus, the more pressure we provoke to our mind, the worse our brain will respond . We will exhaust all your resources, the more memory failures we will have and the more exhausted we will feel. The list of effects associated with excessive worry is immense, due to the biology of stress. Let’s see more data below.

«Every morning has two handles, we can take the day by the handle of anxiety or by the handle of calm».

-Henry Ward Beeche-

girl among people representing how worry affects the brain

How does worry affect the brain?

The way it affects worry to the brain is more intense than we might think. Thus, neuroscientists like Dr.  Joseph LeDoux of the University of New York points out that the impact of this dimension is so severe because people on average, we do not know how to worry in a healthy way . We have the curious tendency to take almost everything to the extreme.

Now, it also points to another factor that perhaps exempts us from a part of guilt. Our brain is programmed to worry first and to think later . That is, our emotional system and, specifically, our cerebral tonsil , are the first to detect a threat and activate an emotion in us.

Instantly, neurotransmitters such as dopamine are released to generate activation and nervousness. Some time later, the limbic system stimulates the cerebral cortex to give notice to the higher mental structures . Purpose? Encourage him to take control, to make use of logical reasoning to regulate that fear, that sense of alarm.

Dr. LeDoux reminds us that in humans, emotions have more power than reason . Something like this makes the worries and the labyrinth of anxiety that we are concerned with, commonly take control of our minds. The way in which the concern affects the brain is therefore immense and the effects are as follows:

Excessive worry generates psychological pain

What do we understand by psychological pain? Is it different from physical pain? Indeed it is, but in reality it is just as limiting. Thus, psychological pain is basically suffering , exhaustion, negativity, discouragement …

In an anxious brain dominated by constant worries, the one who controls us is the tonsil. She makes us see dangers where there are none. Everything is threats, we distrust everything and everything creates fear. Its hyperstimulation affects the cerebral cortex, reducing its activity. Therefore, we stop seeing things with greater calm and balance.

Also, the tonsil activates various areas of brain pain such as the anterior cingulate cortex . In this way, the discomfort intensifies.

girl who takes her temples representing how worry affects the brain

When worry affects the brain with intensity, your cognitive processes fail

What do we mean when we talk about cognitive processes? When worry affects the brain intensely because we have been subject to certain thoughts for weeks or months, we can begin to notice facts such as the following :

  • Memory failures .
  • Concentration problems.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Problems understanding messages, texts, etc.

What is the solution to stop worrying?

Actually, the key is not to stop worrying. The answer is to learn to care better. Otherwise, as explained in a study conducted at the University of Cambridge by Dr. Ernest Paulesu , we run the risk of becoming a generalized anxiety disorder.

To achieve this, to learn to care better, it is appropriate to remember the advice of the outstanding psychologist Albert Ellis . Let us therefore reflect on them for a few moments:

  • Analyze your irrational thoughts. Believe it or not, about 80% of your concerns are excessive and have no logical basis.
  • Talk about your emotions, name them, vent them, bring them to light. You may be overly worrying about your work because, in reality, you feel dissatisfied, because you are not happy, because it does not satisfy you. Delve into those ideas.
  • Do not make decisions based only on your mood . Before deciding and acting, apply calm and pass each thought through the filter of reason. Emotions are important, but if these are paired with slow and focused reasoning, you will always act with greater success.

To conclude, knowing how worry affects the brain, let’s learn to be more proactive. Let’s avoid falling into those cycles of suffering and make use of healthier and more reasonable approaches . If you do not achieve it, do not hesitate to contact specialized professionals.


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