Nervousness, Anxiety Predict Suicide

A bad case of the nerves could spell more trouble for men than women, Swedish researchers find.

Their study of more than 34,000 people shows men with high levels of nervousness and anxiety are nine-times more likely to attempt suicide over the next five years then men with lower levels of these stressors. Women are affected as well, but to a much lesser extent. The study indicates women only have a three-times increased risk.

The research is based on an annual survey conducted among Swedes between ages 16 and 75. Overall, people with severe nervousness and anxiety were about twice as likely to actually take their own lives and between three- and four-times as likely to be admitted to the hospital for mental health problems.

Interestingly, the mental health issues were a bigger risk factor for death from all causes in men than either smoking or having a long-term illness. Smoking and long-term illness remained more important in predicting death among women.

The authors of the study believe these findings raise a lot of red flags, especially because statistics in Sweden show the rate of nervousness and anxiety nearly doubled from 12 percent of the population in the late 1980s to 22 percent in the early part of this century.

SOURCE: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2006;59:794-798

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