Why Do Some of Us Worry More Than Others?
Worrying is something everyone does, but it is such a constant part of life for some that it has a significant impact on everything they do. Answering the question of why some people worry more than others is a career goal for many with a master’s degree in psychology. Let’s take a closer look at some explanations for why some of us worry more than others.
Default Mode Network
Some researchers and mental health practitioners attribute this heightened worry to the default mode network, a region of the brain that is activated when we are not concentrating on anything in particular. According to some experts, if the thoughts triggered by our default mode network are negative or fear-based, then pessimistic emotions tend to be felt when we don’t have anything to focus on. Alternatively, when we are focused, the default mode network is effectively turned off and the negative thoughts are suppressed. Some people, however, may have an overactive default mode network, which leads their mind to constantly replay negative events or stimulate self-doubt.1
Some experts contend that thinking that we worry more than the next person is based on a misguided perception. We may actually be worrying as much as everyone else, but it seems like they worry less because they don’t talk to us about what worries them. While we are very aware of our own worries, we have a less accurate understanding of the extent to which other people worry because it’s simply not discussed.2 Outside of discussing our anxieties with a mental health practitioner, talking about our fears and doubts in public goes against societal norms.
There are some psychology experts who believe some people worry more than others because they are more emotionally sensitive. According to the research, the more emotionally sensitive people are, the more they will find bad situations devastating. People’s brain chemistry can actually change after they go through a traumatic experience, which leaves them wired to avoid the situation at all costs and can lead to more worrying and anxiety.3
Other research indicates that increased worrying can be brought on by prolonged general stress, not just something traumatic. When we encounter a challenge, we release cortisol, which provides a boost of energy and focus. But some scientists argue that problems arise when we have excess cortisol in our body for an extended period of time. This can lead to a poorly regulated stress response that can cause strong and extended periods of worrying.4 Stress experienced over time can lead to more worrying and anxiousness because our stress response is becoming less effective.
Something We Are Born With
Some psychologists believe that there are those of us who are born predisposed to worry more than others. They cite longitudinal studies that track children from birth through adolescence and adulthood to see how worried and anxious they feel over time. Several studies seem to indicate that babies who have strong reactions to novel situations tend to grow up to be more anxious. These high-reactive babies also have a hyperactive amygdala as they grow older and greater increases in heart rate and pupil dilation in response to stress, compared to others.5 Although the research subjects all had different upbringings and different challenges in life, the data shows that those who were highly reactive as babies had a higher likelihood to worry more as adults than those babies who were less reactive.
As we have seen, there is no clear answer as to why some people worry more than others. It is a question psychologists and mental health practitioners continue to research. And it’s just one of many questions you can address with a master’s in psychology from an accredited online institution. With a master’s degree in psychology, you can to apply your knowledge and research to real-world situations, or you can further your studies and pursue a PhD in Psychology. Regardless of which of these paths you choose, you can help answer questions about the human mind and behavior that can have a positive impact on the lives of many.
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