Article: Why Anxious People Are Awesome

Every now and then I like to remind my clients how awesome they are. In the throes of anxiety it can be hard to see much else, especially the truths that we are meant to feel well and that there's so much more right than wrong with us. Anyways, the proof is in the pudding; I recently read this short article about a small scientific study linking high verbal IQ with increased anxiety. The study looked at a little over 100 students at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada. Students were asked to report on their own levels of worry and anxiety by considering statements like: "I am always worrying about something" or "What am I doing to deserve this?". Students were also asked about test anxiety and their current mood to help control for simply in-the-moment anxiety versus generalized anxiety. The students were then subjected to an IQ test.

Interestingly, researchers found a link between verbal intelligence (sorry math fans) and anxiety. Verbal intelligence has a lot to do with critical thinking and abstract reasoning. We use that kind of intelligence to figure out how to (most effectively) communicate our thoughts and emotions. You can easily imagine how someone that ruminates a lot, thinks a lot about past situations and about many different future scenarios, would perform well on a test that measures their ability to process thoughts and emotions and then communicate them effectively. Unsurprisingly then, researchers found that verbal intelligence was linked with worry and rumination and, to a lesser extent, generalized anxiety and depression.

So, those of us experiencing anxiety tend to be smarter than average. These study findings are in addition to other scientific research that has found those of us experiencing social anxiety tend to be more empathetic than average as well.

Silver linings....