There are several different memory systems in the brain. The long-term memory system helps us remember information and events from the distant past, whereas working memory helps us keep information in mind as we actively use it.

Working memory is critical for solving problems effectively and managing chunks of information in the present. When this system is not operating normally, it can lead to mistakes, difficulty completing tasks properly, difficulty concentrating, and problems multitasking. Working memory is strongly influenced by worry and anxiety.1

This can be a major problem in your work and personal life. Worry can hinder your working memory, causing you to forget important tasks or appointments. You may make more mistakes at work or have trouble juggling everything you need to do at home. You might experience lapses such as:

  • Not remembering where you parked your car in a parking lot
  • Frequently losing things, like your keys or your phone
  • Repeating things in conversation because you can’t remember if you already said something
  • Difficulty recalling directions or information someone gives you
  • Trouble remembering items you want to purchase in the store

Research dating back to the 1970s has shown working memory and anxiety to be related. Studies have consistently shown that when people experience anxiety, particularly when worry is at high levels—a trademark of GAD—working memory capacity suffers.2 School/work performance, the ability to use complex problem-solving strategies, and decision-making skills may be compromised.

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