There is grand speculation of the relationship between mental health diagnoses and disorders and the aging process. Medscape noted on a study posted on the Journal of Psychiatry with this specific topic. A study of 1283 individuals with an anxiety disorder, 459 with a past anxiety disorder and 582 individuals with no psychiatric diagnosis were compared. The mean age was around 42 years old and more than half (66%) were women. The study was to determine the relationship between anxiety and aging; specifically, whether anxiety disorders had an effect on aging.
The study was to identify the difference between these samples in the size of their “Telomeres”. These are in the DNA complex at the end of the chromosomes which they shorten with age. They are considered an indicator of cellular aging (according to Wikipedia).
Depression has already been determined to have effects on aging as it has been confirmed the telomeres of depressed individuals was shorter. The study was to confirm on anxiety disorders. The disorders included generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, agoraphobia, and panic disorder with and without agoraphobia.
After controlling for several variables (like substance abuse or smoking) they compared the three groups’ telomeres.
They explained parts of this complex study (if you want to read more go to: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/839457#vp_1) on the Medscape website. However, basic conclusion were that “Although the effect sizes were modest, the difference may indicate 3 to 5 years of accelerated aging for the current anxiety group, based on the estimated mean telomere shortening rate of 14 to 20 bp/year,” they reported. In detail they found: “The differences in LTL for the anxiety subgroups corresponded to an estimated 3.5 to 5 years (social phobia), 4 to 6 years (panic disorder with agoraphobia), and 5.5 to 8 years (generalized anxiety disorder) of accelerated aging compared with the nonpsychiatric control group.” Finally, an interesting note was that “LTL length was not significantly different in the remitted anxiety group and the control group (P = .84). However, time since remission was positively related with LTL. Those with a remission time of less than 10 years had shorter telomeres than those who had been in remission for 10 years or longer (P = .022), suggesting that the cellular aging process is in part reversible, the researchers note.”
Thus, confirming the importance of getting help when experiencing anxiety (or depressive) disorders. Aging with anxiety are closely related. Call us or find yourself a professional that can help.