Interpreting Your Anima Anxiety Results: A Brief Overview

Sergiy Danylov, Ph.D. in Neuroscience August 16, 2023

“The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai, 1831

Though the term “Anima” hails from Latin and “psyche” originates from Ancient Greek, both words converge on a single, profound meaning: the soul. When we ponder the concept of the soul, we imagine a complex tapestry woven from our emotions, experiences, and both conscious and subconscious thoughts.

To gain a more nuanced understanding of ourselves, it’s essential to take a holistic approach, blending these intricate aspects together. This is where the Anima tool becomes invaluable. Our tool employs an array of scientific methodologies to assess mental and emotional states, generating insights into your specific tendencies toward anxiety and depression.

Anima provides two separate tests: one targeting anxiety-related symptoms and the other focusing on depressive tendencies. Each test comprises self-report questionnaires in which you assess your own emotional state, as well as eye-tracking test analysis. Using eye-tracking technology, we capture your eye’s swift, subtle movements to uncover how you focus your attention. These movements, often occurring below your conscious awareness, significantly impact your emotional state. Our analysis offers a nuanced view of your unconscious attention patterns, enhancing the depth of your mental health assessment.

In addition to questionnaires and eye-tracking metrics, we also analyze their coherence: how your conscious perceptions of your mental state align with your subconscious processing. These combined methods enable us to inform you about the possible risk of anxiety or depressive disorders. However, it’s crucial to remember that risk and diagnosis are distinct. Anima helps you better understand your current mental condition, monitor mood fluctuations, and timely identify more serious mental health issues, so you can take appropriate action.

Anxiety Test

Understanding Your Questionnaire Metrics

To gauge how you perceive your emotional state, we employ validated questionnaires (such as GAD-7, PCL-5, etc.), which have been substantiated by research.

Our assessments are designed to measure your situational anxiety levels and the likelihood of anxiety-related conditions. When necessary, we also offer specialized evaluations focusing on conditions like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It’s crucial to listen to our self-assessments consciously. Your responses to these questionnaires offer a snapshot of what you’re currently feeling and thinking about your mental well-being. But this self-awareness has its limits. We must remember that self-observation isn’t always objective. A myriad of factors can influence our judgments, ranging from immediate physiological needs to underlying psychiatric conditions. Our judgments about the severity of our mental health conditions can often be skewed, either minimized or amplified. This is why self-reflection is merely the initial step in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Anxiety Level Based on QuestionnairesExplanation and Recommendations
0-33 – no or low anxietyIn traditional assessments, low scores like yours are often interpreted as a lack of significant anxiety symptoms. However, having low anxiety isn’t always beneficial. It can result in complacency, reduced vigilance, and missed personal or professional growth opportunities. However, it’s worth noting that a perceived low anxiety level might sometimes be a result of denial, especially when in a heightened state of tension. This denial may provide temporary relief, but it poses risks for long-term mental health. For a more comprehensive perspective, integrate Anima’s additional metrics, such as eye-tracking data, with the questionnaire results.
34-66 – moderate anxietyModerate anxiety can serve as a useful signal for your mind and body. It often fosters alertness, enhancing your focus on potential challenges or opportunities. This ‘edge’ can motivate you to prepare and strive for success, both personally and professionally. However, it’s important to manage moderate anxiety effectively to prevent it from escalating into chronic stress or more severe mental health issues. 
67-100 – high anxietyHigh anxiety states can manifest in a variety of ways, both mentally and physically. On the mental side, you might experience constant worry, intrusive thoughts, or a sense of impending doom. Decision-making becomes a challenge as you weigh out every potential consequence, often leading to paralysis by analysis. Emotionally, you might experience heightened sensitivity or irritability, while physically, you could face symptoms like rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, and muscle tension. It’s also worth considering that the intensity may sometimes feel more overwhelming than it objectively is. Temporary spikes in anxiety may be normal during challenging times, but if it’s a constant state, it could drain your resources and impede sound decision-making. Learning to regulate your anxiety according to your needs is time well spent. And remember, seeking professional help early on when symptoms arise can be crucial.

Understanding Your Eye-tracking Test Metrics

By analyzing how your eyes navigate images that commonly trigger anxiety, we can gauge your physiological tension and your perception of negative information. While self-reports rely on personal interpretation and can be influenced by current emotional state, eye-tracking provides real-time data that directly reflects how you interact with anxiety-inducing stimuli. This provides a nuanced understanding of your anxiety level, complementing questionnaire results for a more comprehensive assessment.

Just like any test, eye-tracking is sensitive to how well instructions are followed. For accurate results, please adhere to these guidelines:

  1. Ensure your face is illuminated well, avoiding backlighting that might disrupt the webcam’s view.
  2. Remain still, keeping your head in one position during calibration and throughout the test.
  3. Allow your eyes to naturally explore the images without a preconceived focus. This unbiased observation lets your subconscious gravitate towards what it deems significant or captivating. 

The test uses attention bias to gauge your eye movements while viewing emotional and neutral images. This measures your brain’s reaction to potential threats and your underlying stress and anxiety levels. While these processes often run on autopilot and may feel uncontrollable, they’re crucial for understanding your mental state. You may unconsciously harbor a persistent negative attention bias, influencing your well-being and decision-making processes without your explicit awareness.

Attention Bias ScoreExplanation and Recommendations
0-35 – relaxedLow scores typically indicate a state of relaxation and reduced alertness. This relaxed state is excellent for recovery, but might be linked to decreased productivity. The downside is potential challenges in motivation and task engagement. Thus, managing tension isn’t solely about reduction; it’s equally important to employ strategies that boost focus and prepare you for action.
36-66 – optimal zone Being within this range signifies a balanced state that fosters productivity while effectively managing life’s stresses. Your ability to direct attention and pivot between tasks is instrumental in maintaining this balance.
67-100 – heightened tensionScores in this range hint at cognitive processes sharply focused on detecting and responding to potential threats or stressors. Situationally, this heightened attention can be advantageous. However, consistently landing in this range might point to potential anxiety disorders or other mental health concerns. It’s important to realize that attention bias can vary due to several factors, such as mood shifts or external stressors. Thus, one high score doesn’t conclusively indicate an issue. But if a heightened attention bias is sustained, it would be wise to consult a professional for a deeper assessment and potential strategies to adjust stress responses.

It’s essential to align your scores with your actual emotional state and the demands of your current situation. If there’s a significant discrepancy between your scores and how you feel, multiple test sessions could help capture your individual patterns more accurately. Tracking score fluctuations over time and across different life circumstances is key for an accurate assessment of vulnerability and potential disorders.

Understanding Hypervigilance Metrics

Attention bias is linked to hypervigilance and avoidance, which are different strategies for managing anxiety. The appropriateness of these reactions depends on life circumstances, but in any case, attention bias serves as an indicator of how the brain assesses current challenges and available resources for coping.

Hypervigilance specifically points to your brain’s level of activation and readiness for potential threats. It can be beneficial in dangerous scenarios, aiding in swift problem-solving. However, prolonged periods of hypervigilance can signify excessive anxiety and drain your physiological resources, affecting long-term well-being.

Hypervigilance ScoreExplanation and Recommendations
0-9 – state of relaxation Low scores in this range indicate that your attention isn’t overly focused on potential threats. While this relaxed state can be great for pure relaxation purposes, it might not be conducive for situations requiring fast reactions to sudden challenges or threats. Reduced hypervigilance could delay your response times or cause you to underestimate risks.
10-24 – optimal zone
Scores within this range typically suggest a well-balanced ability to allocate attention. Being in this zone promotes better decision-making and stress management. Furthermore, it establishes a solid foundation for addressing upcoming challenges effectively.
25+ – high-risk zoneA dangerous level of hypervigilance generally points to existing anxiety and heightened attention to potential threats. Remember, prolonged states of hypervigilance can lead to fatigue and increased susceptibility to various mental disorders. This condition serves as an urgent signal to recalibrate your state of mind. To potentially improve your condition, consider the following strategies:Engage in physical activities and adopt relaxation techniques.Prioritize and plan tasks methodically.Cultivate emotional awareness and bolster self-esteem.Engage socially and maintain meaningful connections.It’s crucial to experiment and have a personalized arsenal of effective coping mechanisms at your disposal.

The hypervigilance score is calculated based on the excessive dwell time spent on anxiety-inducing images, expressed as a percentage. Certainly, heightened vigilance can sometimes be a situational response. In such instances, you have the opportunity to pinpoint the catalysts for your increased tension by reflecting on recent events. Additionally, take a close look at the heat maps of hypervigilance instances within your report. Intriguingly, elevated attention to specific images could be tied to individual experiences or even professional interests. In such a context, you have the latitude to manually recalibrate the algorithm’s assessment by focusing on a specific percentage of images that resonate more deeply with you.

Elevated anxious arousal can precipitate enduring shifts in perception, eventually manifesting in undesirable symptoms like chronic anxiety or panic attacks. A single test administration serves as a snapshot of behavioral tendencies; however, the intensity of hypervigilance reveals just how attuned your brain is to detecting potential threats.

Understanding Avoidance Metrics

It’s natural to sidestep events or emotions that trigger unease or anxiety. Yet, consistent avoidance can signal a depletion of mental resilience. Prolonged evasion of crucial situations creates additional stress and depletes the body. If avoidance becomes your primary means of mitigating anxiety, it paradoxically heightens the very stress you’re trying to escape, leading to social isolation and a lack of coping experience. This behavior is linked to an elevated risk of developing anxiety disorders, particularly social phobias, PTSD, and depression.

Avoidance ScoreExplanation and Recommendations
0-12 – minimal In the majority of cases, a minimal level indicates that you are neither particularly prone to avoidance behavior nor currently employing such a strategy to cope with anxiety. It also suggests that you have the emotional resources and the resilience to face challenges head-on.
13-24 – moderateA moderate level typically suggests that you might consider mitigating the impact of adverse emotional states, as avoidance can often serve as a default mechanism to cope with stress. At the same time, it could be worthwhile to examine your behavior in scenarios where you opt for avoidance. Confronting a challenging emotion or situation sooner rather than later can lead to improved outcomes, develop your skills in managing anxiety, and reduce your vulnerability.
25+ – high-risk zoneA high-risk zone often suggests that high levels of avoidance are not a new development, but rather a long-standing coping mechanism for anxiety that you’ve previously chosen and adhered to. This can potentially impair your daily functioning and diminish your quality of life. Such a pattern could be indicative of a condition that perpetuates heightened anxiety and fears. It might be wise to consider professional support and to invest in self-care, employing healthier and more effective anxiety management strategies.

The avoidance score is calculated based on the percentage of image pairs where noticeably reduced dwell time was observed on images evoking distress or discomfort. In addition, be mindful of the heat maps highlighting instances of avoidance in the report. Sometimes, the absence of attention to emotional stimuli could be tied to your unique life experiences. For instance, you might show enhanced focus on neutral stimuli that pique your professional curiosity. In such cases, you have the option to manually reassess the algorithm’s evaluation for a specific percentage of images.

Coherence of Questionnaire Responses and Eye-Tracking in the Anxiety Test

The interplay between your self-reported feelings and attention bias indicators offers a window into how your conscious perceptions mesh with deeper, subconscious reactions to perceived threats. 

  Questionnaire Outcome Metrics
Low valuesHigh-Risk Indicators
Eye-Tracking Test Results: Attention Bias IndicatorsLow valuesIn the realm of psychological assessments, such coherence indicates the absence of an internal psychological conflict when evaluating one’s own condition. This allows for swift responses to state changes and, if necessary, the ability to regulate anxiety using conventional calming methods, such as sleep, breathing exercises, walks, etc.A lower eye-tracking score suggests a subdued unconscious threat response, potentially indicating that, at a deeper level, you feel secure. However, even with this deeper sense of security, it’s possible for the conscious mind to amplify emotions or become entangled in recurring anxious thoughts. This discrepancy highlights the nuanced interplay between our conscious perceptions and subconscious processes. In managing these feelings, it’s beneficial to identify and reevaluate the sources of your concerns. External factors, including insufficient sleep, specific medications, or even caffeine intake, can intensify the delicate balance between conscious and subconscious awareness.
High-Risk IndicatorsEye-tracking indicators often capture the brain’s energetic response in preparation or “mobilization” for impending situations. However, if one regularly perceives themselves as non-anxious, this can lead to discrepancies in self-report questionnaire responses. While occasionally minimizing potential issues has its advantages, underestimating anxiety in moments requiring proactive engagement can be counterintuitive. Cultivating self-awareness is pivotal, allowing individuals to achieve an optimal zone for adeptly addressing challenges.If not attributed to a specific event, such indicators suggest a heightened risk for an anxiety disorder and increased susceptibility. However, attentiveness to your emotional responses aids in mastering their regulation. Negative emotions play a pivotal role in modulating anxiety. Reflecting on and analyzing your state provides insights into the level of concern warranted in similar future scenarios.

Coherent indicators typically signify a superior understanding of one’s “body signals,” enhancing resilience and the ability to adapt swiftly in stressful situations. Pay attention when low or optimal anxiety manifestations in questionnaires coincide with elevated readings in eye-tracking tests. This is often a situational indicator. Temporary stressors might elevate attention bias metrics without evoking feelings of anxiety.

Anxiety doesn’t solely represent threat assessments. We often find ourselves concerned about various matters that don’t demand immediate attention, such as future prospects or the well-being of loved ones. However, fixating on unlikely negative outcomes can hinder the accurate interpretation of our body’s cues and impede adaptability to present changes. If certain events’ outcomes are beyond your control, it’s essential to remind yourself to let go of unproductive thoughts. Engaging in attention-focused exercises over time can significantly enhance your ability to manage these states.


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