- Good coping skills help women living in deprived communities overcome anxiety
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be prevented with good coping skills
- Coping strategies help women find meaning and purpose in life
Women who have a strong sense of coherence and good coping skills can overcome anxiety in unfavorable circumstances, reveals a new study.
The results showed that women who encountered difficult circumstances like residing in a deprived community were found to have no anxiety, as they had good coping skills.
‘Training women with good coping strategies can protect their mental health, as medications prescribed are not always efficient.’
On the other hand, women living in deprived communities who did not have these coping skills were at an increased anxiety risk.
This is the largest study ever conducted and was presented at the ECNP Conference. The study was on coping and the anxiety that can arise from facing adverse circumstances like living in a deprived community.
Coping Strategies for Women
The study opens new possible ways in teaching women coping strategies, which could help them overcome the anxiety that arises from facing these adverse circumstances like living in a deprived community.
"Individuals with this sense of coherence, with good coping skills, view life as comprehensible and meaningful. In other words, they feel they can manage their life, and that they are in control of their life, they believe challenges encountered in life are worthy of investment and effort, and they believe that life has meaning and purpose. These are skills which can be taught," explained lead researcher, Olivia Remes, University of Cambridge.
The research team surveyed about 10,000 women who were above 40 years of age and who took part in a major cancer study that was conducted in Norfolk, UK.
The research team used health and lifestyle questionnaires and recorded information on their living conditions, history of their physical and mental health. The obtained information was then linked to 1991 census data to see if the women were living in deprivation.
A questionnaire was given to each to check their sense of coherence. The questionnaire was developed from Aaron Antonovsky's innovative work on how people find meaning and purpose in life.
About 261 women (2.6 percent) of the 10,000 were found to have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Women who lacked coping skills and lived in a deprived community were found to be twice (98 percent) more likely to have anxiety when compared to those living in more affluent communities.
Moreover, living in a deprived or affluent community made minimal difference to the levels of anxiety to those women, who had good coping skills.
Anxiety Levels Can Be Lowered
Olivia Remes commented that usually, people who have good coping skills have a higher quality of life and lower mortality rates when compared to those who do not have such coping skills.
Good coping skills can be a valuable life resource in the preservation of health.
For the very first time, the research team showed that good coping skills could shield the adverse effects that deprivation has on mental health like having a Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
The most important thing about these skills is that can be taught like feeling you're in control of your life and finding the purpose of your life.
A significant number of people are living in deprived communities, and a good number of them have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. It is the first time; the research team was able to show how women can cope with life has adverse effects on the levels of anxiety.
Olivia Remes said that more research work is required, but this study guides in the right direction.
Medications are prescribed to most people with anxiety. The drugs might be useful for a short-term but are found to be less efficient in the long run. These medications are costly and side effects may also develop.
Therefore, scientists are now turning towards the coping mechanisms to lower anxiety. These mechanisms are helpful to those people who do not experience any improvement in their anxiety symptoms following commonly-prescribed therapies.
"These data suggest a trial of training in coping skills could be valuable for women lacking in them, such training needs to developed and then a study of its efficacy needs to be carried out," said Professor David Nutt (Ex-Chair of the ECNP, Imperial College, London).
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a state of mind where the person experiences feelings of fear, uneasiness, tension or apprehension in response to an unfamiliar stressful situation and loses control on emotions.
Other symptoms include excessive worry, restlessness, irritability, unsteadiness, and inability to concentrate and think rationally.
The patient may also report physical symptoms like increased muscle tension, sweating, increased heart rate, chest pain, sleep disturbances, stomach upset, headache, and fatigue. Excessive anxiety may lead to depression and panic attacks.
Some amount of anxiety is normal and helps in efficient functioning. Normal state of anxiety becomes a disease, which the symptoms interfere with day-to-day life and activities of the patient. The degree of anxiety is measured using Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale.