Does an individual going through a period of extreme anxiety, show increased levels of selfishness during that period ?

When this period ends, does the individual returns back to normal levels of selfishness ?

The following extract is from this article, which describes the personal experience of a person with anxiety/depression.

When we’re anxious, we become lost in our own thoughts, waging a battle so distracting in its intensity that it makes it nearly impossible to notice the outside world. It’s not that we don’t care, but rather that we’re so distracted by our discomfort that it is only with great effort that we’re able to look out and truly see others.

This somehow verifies my intuition, that extreme anxiety increases selfshiness. There is so much anxiety related activity in the head, that other aspects like other people, are neglected.

This is just a personal report though, I need more solid research data.


It is hard to argue that anxiety makes you more "selfish". Your definition of "extreme periods anxiety" is rather vague and hard to operationalize, same goes for selfishness in this context. The article you cited is not based on scientific literature but much rather a personal look on anxiety and selfishness. Therefore it is in no way conclusive evidence.

Anxiety is a natural body response to certain dangers. When anxiety becomes abnormal it can be diagnosed as an Anxiety disorder (see DSM V for criteria for certain anxiety disorders). There has been a lot of research on General Anxiety Disorder (one of the anxiety disorders) and the worry-process. However, too my knowledge there are hardly any studies that describe individuals become more selfish. Like I said, this is also definition question. Certainly people with anxiety worry more and are more focused on the thoughts in their head. However, as far as I know there is no convincing evidence that people with strong anxiety do not care about others except for themselves. On the contrary some people with Anxiety disorders excessively call their loved ones to make sure that they are alright.

Further reading: Butcher, Hooley and Mineka, Abnormal Psychology 16th Edition, Chapter 6.

  • $\begingroup$ I am confused. Where did you reference Butcher, Hooley and Mineka please? $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Aug 17 '19 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ I based my entire explaination on the information in Chapter 6 of Butcher, Hooley and Mineka. I am sorry if I am using references incorrectly. Perhaps you could inform me about the correct usage or refer to the place where I can find the usage of references. $\endgroup$ – Halls of Justice Aug 17 '19 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ Not a big issue. Just that normally I personally would think a reference refers to a point of reference in a question or answer. (Citing using author and year in brackets with full reference info. at the bottom). Just as a suggestion I would say ”Further reading” when the whole answer is covered in one piece of text. +1 now that’s clarified :-) $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Aug 17 '19 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ For an idea of how we prefer references to be provided (but not rigidly - as long as it is close it's fine), take a look at this meta post. $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Aug 17 '19 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks very much for you reply and the information you provided. So basically APA style is fine! I will take a look at the page you mentioned :) $\endgroup$ – Halls of Justice Aug 17 '19 at 13:29

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