Have you ever been accused of being a chronic worrier? Do you ever lie awake at night going over the mental list of problems just waiting to pounce the next morning at the office, wasting precious sleep as you anticipate and plan just how you’ll handle these worries? Perhaps a meeting with a friend or loved one just went badly and too late you thought of all the right things to stay? Like a rerun of a bad play, you keep replaying the scene over and over again in your head, beating yourself up with the could have, should have syndrome instead of moving on past the incident?
Let’s face it; worry is a part of life. There is always going to be something to fret over. It’s just human nature. However, is it possible to worry too much? Is there a point when worry actually stops being an emotional issue and begins to impact your physical health and particularly your heart health?
Increasingly, both medical and psychiatric disciplines are beginning to recognize a mind-body connection between our emotions and emotional health and our physical health. While the cause and effect relationship remains elusive, there does appear to be a link between emotional health and heart disease. In particular, persons with mood or other general anxiety disorders seem to be at a disproportionately high risk for heart disease. Persons with anxiety disorders are at three times greater risk for heart disease than the general population while persons with depression are twice as likely to develop heart disease.
Stress and anxiety disorders (like excessive worry) result in many physiological changes, including an increased risk of heart disease. It has been observed that heart disease may develop after the stressful triggering even has long since passed. Why? The problem, according to one theory, may be that while the triggering event has passed, there has been no emotional recovery. When emotional recovery is delayed, the person may remain stuck in the emotional moment, continuing to relive the event and feel the same stress over and over again.