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Constant Health Worries Might Shorten Your Lifespan

Individuals who excessively worry about contracting severe illnesses may be suffering from ‘health anxiety.’ It has been revealed that health anxiety can pose a risk of shortening one’s lifespan.

A research team led by Professor David Mataix-Cols of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute’s Centre for Psychiatry Research in Sweden announced these findings after analyzing the health survey database of the Swedish population from 1997 to 2020. The research was reported by the American daily ‘The Washington Post’ (WP) on the 26th (local time).

The research method was as follows: the team first compared and analyzed the data of 4,129 individuals (average age at diagnosis: 34.5 years, women: 56.7%) diagnosed with health anxiety with a control group of 41,290 individuals of similar age and gender who did not have health anxiety.

As per the analysis, the group suffering from health anxiety had an 84% higher chance of dying early from various diseases compared to the control group. They were most likely to die from heart, blood, and lung diseases, or even suicide.

Even when considering various lifestyle variables such as marital status, education level, and standard of living, the ‘all-cause mortality risk’ of the health anxiety group was 69% higher compared to the control group. The natural incidence rate was also 60% higher, and the likelihood of death from non-natural external factors was 2.43 times higher. The probability of making extreme choices was a whopping 4.14 times higher than the control group.

The research team suggested that considering the low diagnosis rate of health anxiety, the mortality rate could be even higher when undiagnosed patients are taken into account.

So, why is the mortality rate high among patients with health anxiety? The research team pointed to the potential for alcohol and drug dependence due to chronic stress. They also added the possibility of deliberately avoiding doctors for fear of serious illnesses.

The research team emphasized, “There is a need to pay more attention to health anxiety and actively treat it,” adding, “Disease treatment is possible through cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants.”

By. Joo Hyung Im

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