Are you a chronic worrier? If so, you probably already know it’s bad for your health, but you may not necessarily know why. Up until now, it hasn’t been entirely clear why constant worriers have a higher mortality and a greater risk of health problems. A new study now explains why worrying could lead to an early demise.
Researchers at Purdue University looked back through the health records of 1,788 men over a thirty year period. They were able to correlate personality traits such as being a constant worrier with other health and lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking. They discovered that health habits such as smoking in these chronic worriers accounted for up to forty percent of their increased mortality. It seems that worriers are more likely to take up bad habits such as smoking and excessive drinking to help deal with their psychological turmoil. Researchers are hoping that the data gained from this study may make it easier to identify people who are at high risk of unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking and intervene early on.
This isn’t the first time that chronic worriers and people that see the dark side of life have had something to worry about. A study conducted in the Netherlands showed that people who are pessimistic have a higher risk of dying of heart disease than those who see the positive side of things. People who suffer from depression also have up to twice the risk of dying of heart related problems – giving constant worriers and depressed people one more thing to ruminate about.
Is it possible to change the habits of a constant worrier? This might help to reduce their risk of adopting risky habits such as smoking and excessive drinking that could lead to an early death. It’s unclear whether treatments such as antidepressants or other interventions lower the mortality rate of worriers. These medications carry side effects of their own and shouldn’t be used except in cases of documented depression that’s unresponsive to other treatments.
There’s little doubt from these studies that chronic worriers need to stop worrying and find more effective ways to deal with stress. Natural interventions like starting an exercise program, seeking a higher power, or practicing medication or yoga are healthy ways to reduce the inner turmoil experienced by the constant worrier. Using stress reduction techniques like these may do more than reduce worrying, it may prolong life.