November 18, 2009
Anxiety Lowers Mortality Of The Depressed?

The direction of causation is not clear but a little bit of anxiety might be good for your health. Depressed smokers must have terrible life expectancy.

A study by researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway, and the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King's College London has found that depression is as much of a risk factor for mortality as smoking.

Utilising a unique link between a survey of over 60,000 people and a comprehensive mortality database, the researchers found that over the four years following the survey, the mortality risk was increased to a similar extent in people who were depressed as in people who were smokers.

Dr Robert Stewart, who led the research team at the IoP, explains the possible reasons that may underlie these surprising findings: 'Unlike smoking, we don't know how causal the association with depression is but it does suggest that more attention should be paid to this link because the association persisted after adjusting for many other factors.'

The study also shows that patients with depression face an overall increased risk of mortality, while a combination of depression and anxiety in patients lowers mortality compared with depression alone. Dr Stewart explains: 'One of the main messages from this research is that 'a little anxiety may be good for you'.

I expect people who are more prone to worry are also more prone to worry about their diet, their weight, the quality of the air they breathe, and other factors that influence their health. A worrier would be more likely to get tested for weird lumps and abnormal skin growths. A worrier would be more likely to avoid developing unhealthy habits. So I'm not surprised by these results.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 November 18 10:43 PM  Aging Studies

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