THE PTSD CHRONICLE – Women and worry. They have been indelibly linked by research that shows females have greater anxiety levels than their male counterparts.
Often stereotyped, anxiety can be both a help and a hinderance.
“Good anxiety” is a protective emotion that helps us avoid harm and threats to our well-being, according to medical experts. Anxiety levels fluctuate, rising significantly when we need to respond to dangerous conditions and return to normal when risk levels lower.
When elevated anxiety becomes a more permanent condition, it carries an increased risk of creating depression.
Coupled with other serious health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the combination can be deadly according to researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who recently discovered that women with both have a four-fold greater risk of early death from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, type 2 diabetes, accidents, suicide and other causes.
The results are particularly troubling given the pandemic, according to Andrea Roberts, the lead author of the study and a senior research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health who worries about the impact that COVID-19 related stress and reduced social connections will have on at-risk women.
The study published online in JAMA Network Open is raising alarm bells among mental health professionals.
“These findings provide further evidence that mental health is fundamental to physical health — and to our very survival. We ignore our emotional well-being at our peril,” says Karestand Koenen, senior author of the study and professor of psychiatric epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Editor’s Note.The CDC recommends the following for those in need of more immediate support:
Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health