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Stress Found to Shorten Lifespan

We all know what stress is. It comes in many forms and stems from many things. It is also well known that stress can have a negative impact on our health and life expectancy, but just how much? A new study released today shows that most people who experience distress will incur a shorter lifespan.

Stress comes in different levels, mild, moderate, and severe. Moderate and severe levels often have a doctor’s diagnosis of anxiety or depression tacked upon them.  Anxiety and depression are major factors in one’s health, both mentally and physically.

Once extraneous factors had been accounted for (mental illness, and common “stress copers”), the researchers reviewed their survey and monitored participants. In their findings, it was determined that participants who met seven or more of the 12 stress criteria, were nearly twice as likely to early death than those who met none of the criteria.

In fact, the numbers for any participant fighting stress gave way to shortened life spans. Those who experienced mild distress were 29% more likely to expire from heart disease or stroke, than participants who reported having no stress. The numbers just get worse from there… participants who reported having moderate stress were 43% more likely to die from any cause and those who reported severe stress were 94% more likely to die during the time of the study (10 years) than any of the other participants. Not only were those with high stress likely to suffer heart attack, stroke, or cancer diagnosis during this study, but they were actually that much more likely to die.

So what can be done? Even renowned doctors and researchers say that there is little. Stress is an important part of life and, at one time or another, everyone will experience it. There is also a difference between good stressors like excitement, and bad stressors like worrying. Many professionals are suggesting that a guideline of stress be drawn up and also how we look at stress be altered. This will allow patients to understand the difference between good and bad stress, and take the proper steps to lower levels.

Yoga has been suggested as a positive stress relief tool, and any form of exercise has long been thought to be an efficient way to relieve stress. For those with anxiety and depression, “Talk therapy” is suggested as the optimal method for coping. While nothing has given concrete evidence of stress reduction, some of the coping tools suggested can benefit the body in general. Being active has been known to lower risks for heart disease – one of the major killers for stressed out people. Since exercise releases endorphins, it is possible that the happier the state of mind you are in, the less likely you are to be stressed.

The problem is a complicated one that requires much more research to determine an efficient way to eliminate bad stress. In days where times are tough, managing stress is easier said than done. In America, many are over-worked and lead incredibly busy lives. The constant go-here, go-there mentality, can lead way to stress and emotional issues. It is important for each person to take time for themselves, and when they are feeling that they cannot take anymore, or handle the weight upon them, to look for alternate ways to get the stress out. In this day and age, many have forgotten that it is ok, in fact necessary, to slow down once and a while and smell the roses.

  Sources: Yahoo Health/HealthDay WebMD ABC News
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