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How anxieties could be ruining your life

Wed January 9, 2008

Stop worrying so much, researchers suggest.

If you curb your anxieties and get treated for depression, you’ll live longer and avoid heart attacks, according to recommendations in a study released Tuesday and affirmed by Oklahoma physicians.

Longstanding anxiety, nervousness and serious worrying increase by 30 to 40 percent the risk of heart attack even when other common risk factors are taken into account, notes a University of Southern California report written by psychologist Biing-Jiun Shen.

The risk from anxiety was independent from the more accepted biomedical factors associated with heart attack such as age, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking, Shen said.

Wed January 9, 2008

Stop worrying so much, researchers suggest.

If you curb your anxieties and get treated for depression, you’ll live longer and avoid heart attacks, according to recommendations in a study released Tuesday and affirmed by Oklahoma physicians.

Longstanding anxiety, nervousness and serious worrying increase by 30 to 40 percent the risk of heart attack even when other common risk factors are taken into account, notes a University of Southern California report written by psychologist Biing-Jiun Shen.

The risk from anxiety was independent from the more accepted biomedical factors associated with heart attack such as age, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking, Shen said.

The physiological reactions of anxiety are very similar to signs and changes that are thought to lead to heart attacks, Shen said in the report.

“Look at what happens when you are anxious. Your body reacts as if it’s in danger. It’s the flight or fight response. Reactions are very similar to those brought on by anger or a Type-A personality,” Shen said.

Excessive doubts, obsessive thoughts, irrational compulsions, phobias, insecurity and discomfort in social situations also are cited factors that can lead to depression.

Chronic fear of failure, low self-esteem, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, eating disorders and poor sleep habits can feed a “continuous vicious circle” of anxiety and depression, said Oklahoma City cardiologist Dr. Pavel Riha.

“I’m in total agreement with findings in the study. Emotional stress does affect us. You can’t separate the mind and the body,” said Oklahoma psychiatrist Dr. Art Rousseau .

Anxieties and tension, he said, normally are created by any drastic life-changing experience; the death of a loved one, aging and painful chronic illnesses such as arthritis.

“The bottom line is that anxiety and depression over time will increase morbidity and mortality,” Rousseau said.

What can be done to change?

The USC study and Rousseau agree that mental health problems such as anxiety, worry and depression can be successfully managed.

Rousseau said a new generation of anti-depression drugs without serious side effects is available.

A combination of prescription medication, psychotherapy and counseling can be an effective treatment, he said.

How was the study done?

Each of the 735 men participating in the study completed psychological testing in 1986, and were in good cardiovascular health at the time.

Over time, psychological tests given to them measured hostility, anger, depression and negative emotions.

Study participants completed questionnaires about health habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption and daily diet.

Participants also had a medical exam every three years during a follow-up period that averaged more than 12 years.

By Jim Killackey
Staff Writer

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©2008 Produced by NewsOK.com

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