According to a new study, perceived stress can increase the risk of premature death by as much as 43%. “The perception that stress affects one’s health is conceptually distinct from the amount of stress an individual experiences; indeed, one could report experiencing very little stress but still believe it to have a great impact on their health,” said Abiola Keller of the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lead author of the study. “This study aims to examine the relationship between the perception that stress affects health and current health, mental health, and mortality.”
Abiola and colleagues from the university examined data from the National Health Interview Survey of 1998 and compared it to data from the National Death Index in 2006. The team found that just over one third of the subjects thought their stress would cause adverse health effects. “Both higher levels of reported stress and the perception that stress affects health were independently associated with an increased likelihood of worse health and mental health outcomes,” said Abiola. “The amount of stress and the perception that stress affects health interacted such that those who reported a lot of stress and that stress impacted their health a lot had a 43% increased risk of premature death.”
While those statistics are grim, one factor that could considerably change the outcome is resiliency. “Individuals who have experienced a moderate amount of adversity in the past exhibit more resilience to recent adversity, suggesting that previous experiences with stress may help individuals cope with current stress,” said Abiola. “Resilient individuals, therefore, may not perceive that stress affects their health or experience negative health outcomes even when faced with a lot of stress.” Abiola added, “Research is needed to evaluate the relationship between resiliency and the perception that stress impacts one’s health to further determine whether resiliency development interventions could improve health outcomes among those with high stress.”
Keller, A., Litzelman, K., Wisk, L. E., Maddox, T., Cheng, E. R., Creswell, P. D., & Witt, W. P. (2011, December 26). Does the Perception That Stress Affects Health Matter? The Association With Health and Mortality. Health Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026743
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.