High Anxiety Can Be Deadly

It increases men's suicide risk ninefold, and triples the risk for women

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Highly anxious and nervous men are nine times more likely to attempt suicide within the next five years, and anxious and nervous women are three times more likely to do so, a new Swedish study finds.

The study involved 34,500 people taking part in the Swedish Survey of Living Conditions. Among other things, the people were asked whether, and to what degree, they suffered from nervousness and anxiety.

Over a five-year period, people who'd reported severe anxiety and nervousness problems were twice as likely to die and three to four times more likely to be admitted to hospital for treatment of mental health problems, compared to people who did not suffer from anxiety or nervousness.

Among men, severe anxiety/nervousness outranked both smoking and longstanding illness as a greater risk factor for death from all causes over five to 10 years. The risk of suicide among men with severe anxiety/nervousness also increased over time, becoming 15 times greater after 10 years.

Among the women, smoking and longstanding illness were greater risk factors for death than anxiety/nervousness, the study found.

Reporting in the September issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the Swedish teams note that the rate of reported anxiety/nervousness in Sweden increased from 12 percent of the population in 1988-1989 to 22 percent in 2000-2001.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about anxiety.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, August 11, 2005

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