Anxious people find it harder to read others’ emotions, claims study

Everyone experiences anxiety in some form or the other. While some may squirm due to an ensuing exam, others may become excessively worried over weather conditions destroying their plans. Persistent anxiety soon starts interfering with everyday affairs and causes difficulty in doing simple tasks. Even reading emotions of others becomes a tough task for a person who is overly anxious.

Emotional face reading or understanding people’s feelings from facial expressions are among the fundamental non-verbal aspects of social communication. Emotional expressions enable the viewer to receive information about a person’s behavioral tendencies and emotional state and intention, which helps the viewer to decide whether to approach or avoid contact.

A recent study, titled “State anxiety and emotional face recognition in healthy volunteers” stated that being too anxious can cause obstructions in detecting emotions of other people. It is in line with the previous studies that linked difficulties in recognizing facial expressions to different psychiatric disorders. The researchers found that affected people are more sensitive to faces displaying fear.

Ambiguous expressions are interpreted as anger

The study, published online in the journal of The Royal Society in May 2017, was intended to measure how an anxiety-inducing situation affects the ability of healthy individuals to read emotions based on facial expressions. Significantly, the participants had general feelings of situation-based anxiety, but they were not suffering from any anxiety disorders. To induce worry and tension among the participants, they were made to wear facemasks delivering either normal air or air enriched with carbon dioxide. This approach is believed to induce tension and causes increased heart rate and blood pressure.

The researchers found that anxious individuals had eight percent less ability to identify the correct emotion. However, they were unsure if people exposed to situations that trigger anxiety exhibited such effects. Marcus Munafò, professor of biological psychology at the University of Bristol said, “We were specifically trying to answer the question: how does our current level of anxiety influence how we see the world, and in particular emotions in faces?”

The researchers also reported that anxious participants more often related ambiguous facial expressions to anger rather than happiness. However, the association was weaker in case of a bigger group of participants. The research team also found that once factors including current levels of anxiety were factored in, people who were generally more anxious fared better in recognizing facial emotions.

Dealing with anxiety

Feeling anxious at times, especially during stress hours, can be a fairly normal feeling. Here, we look at some simple practices, which can help people alleviate anxiety during such times or prevent its occurrence. To overcome anxiety one should adopt the following steps:

  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, and eat balanced meals.
  • Get adequate sleep of seven to eight hours to help the body relax.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. Other simple things like listening to music can also help.
  • Take out time to exercise on daily basis. It helps relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Know the triggers and look for patterns. Accept the situation and does not panic.
  • Spend time with loved ones. Sharing feelings and asking for their support is an effective way to control anxiety.

These are some self-help techniques to deal with anxiety. However, if symptoms persist or intensify over time, professional help becomes necessary. The experts at Anxiety Treatment Centers of California can help you locate the finest anxiety treatment centers in California where recovery is facilitated in a serene environment, ideal for holistic well-being. For more information on anxiety disorders treatment in California,  you can contact us over chat or call our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459.

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