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Do nervousness, fear, apprehension and worrying seriously affect your daily life?
People often experience worries or fear before confronting a challenging task like a test, examination, recital or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal.
Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function.
Unfortunately for women, it is better avoided because it can give wrinkles and actually make one grow old more quickly. Surprisingly, it was suggested that it could shorten a woman’s life -span by as much as six years.
Many people wonder whether - and how - anxiety can accelerate ageing. But, researchers, in a study, had connected a phobic anxiety, a common form of psychological stress, with the likelihood of premature ageing.
In addition, women in the highest phobic category were generally less healthy than those in the lowest — they were more likely to have smoked, have a higher body mass index and to be less physically active.
Anxiety disorders are more common in women than men for reasons scientists do not yet fully understand.
However, it is becoming increasingly clear that prolonged anxiety disorders are a serious health problem with potentially life-threatening consequences.
The researchers in the journal PLoS ONE reported that phobic anxiety, a common condition among middle-aged and older women, is associated with shorter telomeres, an indication of cellular damage leading to premature ageing. Telomeres are DNA complexes that protect chromosomes from deteriorating and guard genetic information during cell division.
Phobic anxiety, a common condition among middle-aged and older women, is essentially the feeling of distress that arises when thinking about a fear, such as anxiety felt thinking about going to a crowded place, situations or everyday objects. The fear may be acknowledged as irrational or unnecessary, but the person is still unable to control the anxiety that results.
Researchers analysed information from 5,243 women between the ages of 42 and 69 who took part in a questionnaire. Researchers gauged their anxiety levels by asking them questions such as “Do you have an unreasonable fear of being in enclosed spaces?” and “Do you feel panicky in crowds?” They found that people who scored high on the tests had shorter telomeres.
Shortened telomeres have been linked to increased risk of cancers, heart disease, dementia and mortality.
The findings held up even after the researchers adjusted for factors that could explain shorter telomeres, including smoking, high blood pressure, body mass index, physical activity, cardiovascular disease and the age of the father when the participant is born . Older fathers pass down longer telomeres.
Although the researchers did not take into account whether the participants experienced depression, which may have affected the results, they stressed that the study showed a correlation between anxiety and shorter telomeres, but did not prove a cause-and-effect between the two.
They said it was possible that people with shorter telomeres were more prone to stress, and that more research was needed to confirm and better understand the findings.
The researchers suggested that the “findings may be partly explained by influences of phobic anxiety on risk of development of serious chronic diseases.”
So while more research would need to be conducted in order to pinpoint the exact cause, the study’s results did confirm that phobic anxiety joins a host of other factors that are linked to faster aging.
Professor Adefolarin Malomo, a brain surgeon at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State explained that worries over a long period of time could weigh anybody down and subsequently tell on a person’s health.
According to him, “anxiety is not only stressful to the mind, it also affects the body. It makes the body to wear out. It is for this reason that individuals must control their stress or worry levels.
“It has to be controlled by people’s approach to life, values, their orientation as well as the things around them that they need to change. Simple things like exercises, mediation and recreational activities are helpful. These are things that can help to take the mind off whatever might be the reason for the fear or worry.”
Researchers say that meditation reduces stress and builds a positive mood by keeping the mind away from negativity and causes hormonal changes that help in maintaining telomere length.
Previously in 2005, researchers correlated smoking and obesity with biological aging. A 2009 study on identical twins confirmed the results, while also noting other factors that contribute to accelerated ageing.
Even geography has an impact on how quickly people age. A recent report identified 10 cities whose residents age too fast; Knoxville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., topped the list, whereas San Francisco, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah, were ranked the highest among cities for staying young.
Still, evidence suggests that people with anxiety disorders are at greater risk for some chronic medical conditions such as digestive disorders, chronic respiratory disorders such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and development of heart disease and to heart attacks.
Two recent studies concluded that among people with heart disease, those suffering from an anxiety disorder were twice as likely to have a heart attack as those with no history of anxiety disorders.Share