Finding Purpose in Life May Be a Key to Overcoming Anxiety
Node Smith, ND
A recent study found that individuals who find purpose and meaning in life are less likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, even during difficult and turbulent times of life.1 Feeling in control of one’s life was also a factor that influenced anxiety, according to the study from the University of Cambridge, and published in the British Medical Journal.
It is estimated that anxiety affects 40 million adults in the U.S. annually
Anxiety is an extremely common mental health complaint, and it is estimated that it affects 40 million adults in the United States annually. Anxiety can look like a lot of different things, ranging from the inability to concentrate to frank fear and panic attacks. It can even cause physical sensations that feel like imminent death from heart attack, breathlessness or loss of consciousness. Symptoms also range from sweating, gastrointestinal upset, chest pains, and dizziness. Many people experience anxiety regarding health conditions, which may further complicate the presentation of anxiety.
Women who had a strong sense of coherence were generally not anxious
The current study concentrated on anxiety in women and found that women who had a strong sense of coherence (SOC) – viewing life as predictable, manageable and meaningful – were generally not anxious even when living in deprived circumstances. Women who lacked SOC, who felt they were not in control of their lives and lacked a view of meaning in life, had very high levels of anxiety when facing the obstacles of life.
This may help uncover some of the mystery of why some individuals gracefully handle the obstacles of life, while others are gripped with anxiety during similar situations.
Study looked at over 10,000 British women
The study looked at over 10,000 British women using a questionnaire that measured SOC. The data was analyzed with specific attention given to individuals living in deprived communities. It was seen that women living in deprived communities who reported “believing they were in control of their lives,” that “their lives made sense,” and “had purpose and meaning in life,” were significantly less likely to have anxiety. Women not having these views about their own life had higher levels of anxiety. Women who were living in deprived areas with a low SOC were twice as likely to have anxiety as women in affluent communities.
Research illuminates how inner traits of individuals impacts mental health
This research may help illuminate how the inner traits of individuals may impact mental health, and response to life’s hardship. Being aware of these influences may also aid in the navigation of treatments, especially for individuals who may not respond well to medication or other therapies.
- Remes, O. et al. Sense of coherence as a coping mechanism for women with anxiety living in deprivation: British population study. BMJ Open; Tuesday 24 April; DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018501
Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.