Anyone who experiences anxiety on a regular basis, or has a loved one with an anxiety disorder, understands that anxiety can impact overall health and wellbeing, affecting quality of life. Over the years, medical research has pointed to anxiety and stress increasing risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and decreasing “somatic”(bodily) health even without other lifestyle risk factors, such as poor diet, increased alcohol intake, smoking and physical inactivity. Recently, there has been scientific evidence that reveals that anxiety actually disrupts health on a cellular level, increasing the aging process dramatically. The study also revealed that these cellular changes can actually reverse when anxiety is resolved.
The study, conducted in the Netherlands and led by Josine Verhoeven, MSc, and PhD candidate at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, consisted of over 2,000 participants. The participants were divided into three test groups:
- Those with current, new onset of a variety of anxiety disorders;
- Those with a long-term history of a variety of anxiety disorders that were resolved for months or years;
- Those with no anxiety.
A specific part of the DNA, telomeres, were observed during the study. Telomeres are the endcaps of our chromosomes and have been known to shorten with age, and thus are considered an indication of aging on the cellular level.
Ms. Verhoeven and her team hypothesized and discovered that people suffering with several types of anxiety (including social phobia, panic disorder, agoraphobia (fear of crowds), and generalized anxiety disorder) are at risk of cellular aging, or shortened telomeres. This aging acceleration was remarkable, depending upon the length of anxiety and the type of anxiety disorder experienced. The most important revelation in the study was that those with resolved anxiety, especially those individuals not suffering from anxiety for 10 years or more, had telomere lengths that resembled those of the control group, who had no anxiety at all. This suggests that the reduction and elimination of anxiety could slow down or reverse the aging process.
This study is important for both those who live with anxiety and those who have loved ones suffering from anxiety. Reducing anxiety levels and eliminating anxiety altogether not only leads to an improved quality of life, it appears to have an anti-aging effect on a cellular level.
The researchers report that more research would be necessary to evaluate the individual person-to-person changes in telomeres over time in order to make implications about cause and effect.
Verhoeven stated: “Lifestyle interventions such as increased physical activity have been shown to have a favorable impact on telomere length in a healthy population. Therefore, further studies should test whether such interventions could impact cellular aging in psychiatric patients.”
Ensuring your loved one has an improved quality of life depends on many factors. Please allow the experts at Nightingale Homecare to decrease your anxiety related to finding quality Arizona home health care for your loved one in the Phoenix area, including Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and Maricopa County. Contact us today at 602-504-1555!