Anxiety, depression linked to heart disease and stroke

Over a 22-year period, researchers studied a nationally representative group of 6,019 people 25-74 years old in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Study participants completed a series of tests, including medical examinations and psychological questionnaires to gauge anxiety and depression levels. People in the highest third of anxiety symptoms had a 33 percent higher stroke risk than those with the lowest levels.

“Constant stress will decrease serotonin, which will cause anxiety problems, and when anxiety isn’t treated you become depressed. It’s a vicious cycle,” explained Comeau, who agreed reducing anxiety is a must, but said it is often hard in our fast-paced society.  

Plus, our society’s constant need to be plugged in adds stressful environmental triggers. “With the use of technology there are no longer boundaries between work and home life, so people are on their computers and phones, working longer hours whether they realize it or not. There’s no time where work ends and relaxation begins,” Comeau explained.  

Comeau shared ways to avoid anxiety and stress generated by daily life, including decreasing caffeine in the afternoon, having a similar routine and bed time every night, refraining from using email after a certain hour, decreasing the amount of stimuli before going to bed, and exercising regularly. She also recommended carving out time to “do nothing” which allows the brain to rest.  

“We’re so motivated to succeed we don’t realize by stopping and being still we could actually become more creative,” she explained.
                                                                                                                             ###
Pictured above: Dr. Sharyn Comeau, a Monarch psychiatrist.

Media contact: Natasha A. Suber, (704) 986-1582 or natasha.suber@monarchnc.org.