Good news for worrywarts: A little anxiety could go a long way.
A new study finds that one type of anxiety--the kind associated with worry--can actually help you beat depression.
So while you might be looking for ways to lower your anxiety levels (and really, who isn't?), you might not want to get rid of them altogether.
Researchers did brain scans of patients with different diagnoses. Some were depressed, but not anxious... while others were anxious, but not depressed. And still others were depressed, but also battling one of the two main types of anxiety: anxious arousal, which is more associated with panic, and anxious apprehension, which leads to worry.
During the scans, patients were asked to look at words with negative, positive or neutral meanings--and describe not the word, but the color of the word.
Sounds simple enough, right?
But those facing only depression or depression with anxious apprehension had a harder time with the task. And while they did it, researchers spotted activity in the region of the brain associated with depression.
The worriers, on the other hand, had more activity in the region of the brain that helps us speak and communicate, and were better at identifying the colors without focusing on the meanings of the words.
In other words, the worry appeared to cancel out some of the depression.
Of course, the study doesn't mean you simply need to tolerate anxiety. After all, high levels of either kind can be life-altering, even crippling.
If you're looking for some natural relief from severe anxiety, talk to your doctor about some powerful herbal remedies, including St. John's wort, valerian root, gingko and kava.
Many of these herbal treatments can also help ease depression. Since many people deal with both at the same time, these are some simple, safe and effective ways to get a grip on two awful conditions without adding drug effects to your list of worries.
And as I mentioned just a few weeks ago, simple deep- breathing exercises can reduce anxiety levels by as much as 50 percent--the same level as drugs and psychotherapy. So can massage and thermotherapy--wrapping the arms and legs in heating pads and hot towels.
But if you have a little anxiety left over... don't worry so much about your worrying. Not only is a certain amount perfectly normal--as the latest study shows, it just might help keep depression at bay as well.