Entries in Distress (2)


Psychological Distress Linked to Higher Death Risk

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Feeling anxious, depressed or lonely may boost the risk of early death, a new study found.

The British study of more than 68,000 people found those who reported symptoms of psychological distress were more likely to die from cardiovascular disease, cancer or injuries.

"Even with low levels of psychological distress -- certainly much lower levels than would attract a diagnosis of anxiety or depression -- these people had an increased risk of mortality from all causes," said study author Tom Russ, a clinical research fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  "The greater the level of distress, the greater the risk."

Russ and colleagues used a survey to probe participants on 12 measures of psychological distress, from lost sleep to lost confidence.  After controlling for weight, physical activity and habits such as cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, they found those who met seven or more of the 12 criteria were nearly twice as likely to die early than those who met none.

The findings, published Tuesday in the journal BMJ, add to mounting evidence that psychological stress can have physical consequences.

"Other studies suggest symptoms of psychological distress can cause physiological changes in the body," said Russ, referring to stress-induced spikes in blood pressure and hormone levels linked to heart disease, stroke and cancer.  "The fact that we saw such a clear dose-response relationship adds weight to this possibility."

Stress is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid.  And some studies suggest that in small doses, it might even be healthy.

"An attempt to produce a stress-free existence seems utopian and ignores the idea of 'good stress,'" Glyn Lewis, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Bristol in England wrote in an editorial accompanying the study.  "A more useful approach could be to change the psychological interpretation of stressors, because this might reduce their biological impact."

Study author Russ said more work is needed to tease out the link between psychological distress and mortality.

"At the moment, there's no clear evidence that treating these symptoms can reduce the risk we found," he said.  "But that's a study that must be done."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Women Stressed More Than Men When Work Cuts Into Home Time

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Thanks to technology, we can link into work anywhere, anytime, but the constant office communication can take a toll on the work-life balance, especially for working mothers.

Women tend to feel more guilt and psychological distress than men do when work follows them home, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

These findings held true despite the fact that women were found to balance work and family life just as well as men.

"Although men did report higher levels of work contact while at home, what we saw was that the level of contact didn't make a difference for mens' feelings of guilt or distress.  It did for women," said Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto and a co-author of the study.

While men and women may feel equally annoyed or inconvenienced by those late-night work e-mails flagged "urgent," this kind of out-of-office intrusion seems to disproportionately affect women, said Schieman.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio