March 18, 2008

Don't Worry, Be Dead

[By Crabby]
Oh No! Bad Things Happening in A Foreign Language!

Having just written a post defending the Power of Negative Thinking, I was quite (perversely) happy to come across this recent study suggesting that anxious older women actually live longer than mellow ones.

Nervous Nellies of the world, rejoice!

If you're an older woman and have a somewhat anxious disposition, maybe now you can go ahead and ignore those youngsters when they say: "Chill, granny. Don't worry, be happy!" Go ahead and panic over every new little ache and pain and scurry off to the doctor if you want. ("Ouch, my foot hurts--maybe it's toenail cancer!") Apparently all that worry-wartishness actually has a protective effect.

However, for guys it was different. Anxious older fellas tended to croak earlier than non-anxious ones. Sorry, guys.

The finding about the older women seemed kind of unlikely, but it was actually based on a 15 year study of 1,000 seniors and didn't look to be obviously half-assed. Still, I won't be surprised if another one contradicts it next week.

As a middle aged person with Worrywartish Tendencies, I'm hoping it's good news for me even if I don't entirely trust it. But at least it's an nice break from that constant tiresome message that carefree types are always better off and so all us cautious folks should forever strive to lighten up.

Heh heh heh heh heh.

Note: I don't mean to minimize the completely debilitating kind of clinical anxiety that makes leading a normal life difficult. If you've got that kind, you should think about getting help. I'm talking more about the "Quirky Character in a Woody Allen Movie" kind of anxiety.

So what do you guys think, does this study make any sense at all? Or does it sound like the kind soon to be followed by "whoops, we took a new look at the data we were totally f*cking wrong the first time?"

And do any of you have Worrywartish tendencies or is it just me?


  1. I used to have worrywartish tendencies but not so much any more.
    I've been around too many serial worriers. I became annoyed and vowed to not worry so much lest I become like them.
    If their way makes them live longer they are welcome to it.

  2. Does it mean that I have worrywartish tendencies if my husband calls me "Death Case Scenario?"

    Every "fun" activity my three boys conjure up turns on the inner debate - whether I'm justifiably concerned or over-the-top over-protective. Typically I'll share with my husband; "I don't know if they should be jumping from the couch onto the Bosu ball, which is right next to the stairs that lead down into the family room - someone may get hurt." He usually assures me that I'm too worried as we watch one of the boys tumble down the stairs.

    I also had to convince my husband to go to the hospital when he had three cracked ribs from a fall. Sure, they couldn't do anything to help him, but it was nice to know that no ribs were poking into his vital organs.

    I think that most women have the ability to see the logical conclusion to most situations, while people like my anxiety-free husband only see the potential to meet a great challenge. Thankfully we're there to balance each other out. His enthusiasm helps to make me more adventurous, and my sensibility helps to keep him alive.

  3. Amy, LOL!!!! That is SO TRUE!!!

    Crabby, toenail cancer-too funny!

    leah j., I'm kind of similar. I had to let go of my overbearing tendencies.
    When I was a kid I put a poster on my ceiling, and my father was convinced that it was going to fall down in the night, land on my face and suffocate me. I was about 16 at the time, and promised myself I would NEVER say that to my kids,lol!

  4. Crabby, now I'm worrying that I'm not worrying enough. This is a pretty confusing conundrum to consider first thing in the morning!

    Between you and your husband, it sounds like you're going to have well-balanced kids. (Though not necessarily kids who are good at balancing, from the sound of that stair crash ;)

    Leah, I agree. They may live longer, but are they enjoying the process?

  5. Azus -- I've never heard of poster suffocation before. Something new to worry about! ;)

  6. Good for you, Leah!

    Amy, that's too funny. And you totally make me realize how lucky I am not to have kids. What and endless supply of stuff to worry about!

    And Azusmom, poster suffocation, that hilarious! That's too far-fetched even for me. (Hmm, my parents were not worriers...perhaps if they'd been more anxious, maybe I'd have compensated by being more mellow myself?)

    And Merry, don't let me get you started worrying--at least not based on some silly study! You can go ahead and worry because the World is a Dangerous Place though, that's a better reason.

  7. As one of the more senior posters on this blog, I have to tell you that the real cause of "old lady anxiety" is the conflict between our two main issues:

    1. Will I have enough in the way of financial resources to take care of myself for the rest of my life?


    2. Can I keep myself healthy enough to live forever?


  8. Perhaps the answer is for men to share their anxieties with women and we will all benefit!

    Dr. J

  9. The Bag Lady falls into the worry-wart category. She worries about everything from day-to-day things like: do these jeans make my ass look big? (short answer - yes!) to state of the world things like: is today the day the meteor is going to fall from the sky, creating a nuclear winter and wiping out life as we know it on this planet?

    So does this mean the Bag Lady will live forever? (Or at least until that meteor lands...)

  10. On the positive side, once the meteor lands, I won't have to get up and go to work :)

    ... little merry sunshine, that's me...

    Oh you're right. That is kind of annoying. Sorry :(

  11. I always worry that I'm going to get home late and miss my programs (a.k.a., Wheel of Fortune). And lord knows if that happens, I'll probably get behind on my knitting, too ...

  12. Yea, I worry a lot (and I'm not close to Granny age!) I guess I'm preparing to live longer than average. Don't women usually live longer than men anyways? Or is it the other way around?

  13. I am a worry-wart most of the time. I think I might have lost a bit of it when they took out the cancer & I am still here though. Doesn't mean I worry any less when I have strange pains - that is where my mind will always go now!

  14. ditto to Amy's comment!!
    That is me. And my husband. And the kids.

    I don't usually ever worry about myself, it's those darn kiddos that conjure up all my "worrisome" tendencies.

  15. What a great idea, Dr. J! I know lots of gals who wouldn't object to that, but good luck getting the guys on board...

    And I love all the great examples of stuff to worry about, though I need to be careful that I don't come away with a whole new list.

    Financial Ruin! Meteors! Jeans that make our asses look big!

    At least with our move I'll get to trade worrying about earthquakes (scary) for hurricanes (less scary and way more predictable). We were sitting practically on the Hayward fault, which is overdue to blow, so we're getting a good deal I think.

    But then I guess there's always traffic accidents on the way there...

  16. Oh yes, I worry. Right now I'm worrying that Frank is going to wander over here and tell you just how much.

  17. Could a factor be that "worry warts" don't do things which could quite possibly shorten their lifespans, such as skydiving, mountain climbing, air travel, or walking across the street???

    Just a smart ass thought,


  18. I have no idea, but I LOVE the row of cupcakes at the top of the site. Mmmmmmm...

  19. All I know is it's the grumpy old bats in my family that tend to live until they're over 100!

    As for me? I'm cranky when I'm hungry...and my kitchen is dirty. Other than that...pretty mellow.

  20. I like what you said, "Or does it sound like the kind soon to be followed by "whoops, we took a new look at the data we were totally f*cking wrong the first time?"

    Don't they keep telling us to cut down on stress to age healthily? Anxiousness is stress, si?

  21. Interesting! I think that if you are spending your whole life in anxiety, that's not very enjoyable, so wouldn't you rather lose a few years (if this research is true) and spend them feeling positively about life and enjoying the world?


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