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Anxiety not a barrier to a satisfying life

Depression has a tremendous impact on a person's sense of satisfaction with life but anxiety does not, research from the University of Toronto shows.
Psychology Professor Ulrich Schimmack, of the University of Toronto at Mississauga, is lead author of an article published in the August issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, which adds to our scientific understanding of happiness. Past research has shown that personality traits such as extraversion and neuroticism are the strongest predictors of happiness. Schimmack's research goes one step beyond, to look at the importance of specific aspects of those traits - anger, anxiety and depression in the case of neuroticism, and, in the case of extraversion, a disposition to be dominant, active, sociable and cheerful.

From University of Toronto :

Anxiety not a barrier to a satisfying life, study says

Depression, however, does have impact

Depression has a tremendous impact on a person's sense of satisfaction with life but anxiety does not, research from the University of Toronto shows.

Psychology Professor Ulrich Schimmack, of the University of Toronto at Mississauga, is lead author of an article published in the August issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, which adds to our scientific understanding of happiness. Past research has shown that personality traits such as extraversion and neuroticism are the strongest predictors of happiness. Schimmack's research goes one step beyond, to look at the importance of specific aspects of those traits - anger, anxiety and depression in the case of neuroticism, and, in the case of extraversion, a disposition to be dominant, active, sociable and cheerful.

''On the negative side, wouldn't you have thought that depressed is bad but depressed and anxious is worse?'' says Schimmack. ''Actually, all that matters is how depressed you are, and after that, anxiety doesn't seem to influence your level of life satisfaction.'' People who are depressed are more likely than others to be anxious as well, but anxiety is a short-term response to a stress or threat and when it is resolved it doesn't enter our assessment of life satisfaction, he says. Schimmack's article summarizes four studies and uses data from a number of sources including a recent survey of 344 students at U of T.

The strong influence of depression shows that a lack of meaning is more detrimental to life satisfaction than stress and worries, Schimmack says. In addition, being the life of the party or the most successful person in the room doesn't guarantee happiness, he says - far more important is a disposition to be cheerful.

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My experience is 18.Aug.2004 02:37

Dance

that being depressed AND anxious IS worse.

As a kid I was often depressed. As I got older, I was sometimes mildly manic or anxious, changing to middle-of-the-road, and swinging back to depression. It wasn't until my forties that I experienced being depressed and anxious simiultaneously. That, to me WAS the worst.

There were times during the most intense depressions that probably were worse than the times when I was depressed and anxious. But I've found the combined feelings to be worse than just one feeling or the other.

Personally, it's easy for me to see that depression can result in passivity and inactivity, which tend to lead to a self-reinforcing stagnation, whereas the energy of anxiety can propel one forward to activity. However, as I understand it, some people are immobilized by anxiety (for example, those who avoid social situations in reaction to intense obsession or fear). I think persons with severe or long-term anxiety of this sort may be much more rare than persons with severe or long-term depression. However, it's hard to believe that these folks aren't seriously affected in their ability to achieve satisfaction in their lives, as are depressive people.

Perhaps Professor Schimmack is referring more to an independent FEELING of satisfaction rather than the ability to attain achievements that then RESULT in, or at least more effectively SUPPORT a sustained feeling of satisfaction.

I wonder how, if at all, he compares "satisfaction" with "happiness" and how he, his study, and his subjects define those two words.

I notice the article states, "anxiety is a short-term response to a stress". I think depression and anxiety can both be short-term or long-term, and the longer and/or greater severity of either would make a person more miserable in the moment AND less successful in achieving short- or long-term goals while they are in either extreme state. If his study was only considering short-term anxiety, but all kinds of depression, that could explain the differences that he found between the two states.

(Did I achieve any satisfaction from thinking about or writing this comment? From posting it?)

Glad to finally confirm 18.Aug.2004 06:53

pix

Whew!!! Glad to know that being extroverted, loud, obnoxious, interruptive, and generally self-obsessesive is a good thing. I mean, I always thought it was fine, but now that an expert tells me I'm happier because of it, and you know, I am a cheery easily self-amused type, that it's good, and I'll probably live longer, and just be all around uh..uh...wait what was that guy talking about...

Acupuncture helps 18.Aug.2004 08:54

quill

Acupuncture seems to stimulate the neurotransmitters to be released that are deficient in both people with anxiety, depression, and alternating bouts with each. Endorphin stimulation deals with pain; Balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems to get out of "fight or flight" mode long enough to produce normal amounts of serotonin, norepinephrine and other neurotransmitters and hormones helps deal with emotional and chemical imbalances...

It is not well understood how the body is stimulated to return to it's natural state of balance, but it is obvious that there is a lot of relief with regular or even infrequent acupuncture treatments from anxiety and depression, and even psychosis to a point, when used in conjunction with appropriate western medication and counseling.

Just thought I'd throw that into the fray.

putting depression to work for you 18.Aug.2004 11:38

JR

I've always thought that depression could be offset by a large amount of caffeine throughout the day. For ten years this has been my remedy and sure its led to alot of anxiety and sleep deprivation problems, but I've gotten that depression monkey off my back. Now I've even cut back somewhat, I'm drinking more tea and less coffee, unless I run out of tea, but this is in part a response to the warmer temperatures. I could eliminate caffeine from my system, but there's nothing that could replace it adequately, I think.

One problem I've faced is that early on I realized I needed counseling and medication like Paxil and Zoloft, but I couldn't afford those things. So I was determined to get a good paying job so I could afford those things, but unfortunately I was either too depressed or anxious to get a good paying job, so then I couldn't afford the Paxil. I tell you, it's the bane of my existence.

Dance was right on the money 18.Aug.2004 12:59

Chardman

and illustrated the loop that can get one stuck in a continous cycle of anxiety/Depression.
The two tend to feed and sustain each other. I believe that the drugs don't help as much as they mask symptoms and give more weight to the internal argument that the person struggles with i.e.:I'm a victim of my own biological shortcomings versus a cognitive/behavioral approach to diminishing depression/anxiety. The medical model postulates that the modern human brain is lacking in certain substances, and is subject to being chemically out-of-whack, like a swimming pool with a dangerous PH level.
Doctors don't like to use the term Habit-forming, in relation to these magic bullets, but once one starts a drug regimine, they strongly advise of the adverse effects of discontinuing use.
I'm of the belief that our feelings are there to tell us something, and sometimes the message is there in scary three-foot-high letters.

Hypnotherapy 18.Aug.2004 15:44

A Portland Hypnotherapist

Hypnotherapy has been helpful for people with both anxiety and depression.

self-medication 19.Aug.2004 08:37

clamydia

I find beer to be a great way to kill the anxiety, and the resulting alcohol-induced coma lets me sleep right through the depression!