Could a Little Anxiety Help Improve Your Memory?

effects of anxiety on the brain

Stress and anxiety can take a serious toll on your well-being. Your brain is no exception, as several studies have detailed the negative effects of anxiety on the brain. Yet for most of us, anxiety is a normal part of everyday life.

But a recent study has found that the effects of anxiety on the brain don’t always have to be bad. According to the results, in moderate amounts, it might even help improve your memory.

Does Anxiety Improve Your Memory?

The authors of this study observed about 80 students while performing different memory tasks. Ahead of the study, they assessed the anxiety levels of each participant. Then they divided them into two groups. One group had to perform shallow encoding, while the other one was tasked with deep encoding.

These types of encoding are two ways in which your brain retains information. Shallow encoding refers to memorizing superficial information. But with deep encoding, your brain has to not only acquire the info but also connect it with other items in your memory.

The researchers showed both groups a few dozen words paired with images. Afterward, they asked them to remember specific details about those words. The results showed that people with moderate amounts of anxiety performed better on the test. They could recall words much more easily, especially when the accompanying images had a negative meaning.

The Takeaway

According to the researchers, this means that the effects of anxiety on the brain aren’t always bad. In small amounts, it could have a positive impact on your memory, both long-term and short-term. But it’s all about finding the right balance, as excess anxiety can damage your brain.

If you’re finding it hard to cope with stress and anxiety, you should seek professional help. Talk to your doctor and ask them to refer you to a good therapist.