Study finds how most anxiety sufferers achieve excellent mental health

Someone suffering from an anxiety disorder may feel doomed, but there's light at the end of the tunnel, according to a new study out of the University of Toronto. Researchers have found that the majority of people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) will recover from the condition and proceed to achieve 'excellent' levels of mental health. As well, certain factors were found that increases one's odds of reaching this state of healing.

Most sufferers find relief

According to the new study, recovery rates from generalized anxiety disorder are very high — and not only that, but around 40-percent of former sufferers proceed to reach 'excellent' mental health. The researchers found that 72-percent of people with a history of generalized anxiety disorder had been free of the disorder for a minimum of one year at the time of the study.

In this case, 'excellent' mental health refers to a state in which someone reports feeling life satisfaction and/or happiness nearly every day for a full month, as well as high levels of psychological and social well-being over a full month, and lack of depression, generalized anxiety, and substance dependency for a full year.

Digging into the numbers, the study also found that around 60-percent of people who had once suffered from generalized anxiety disorder were likewise free of other addition and mental health problems over the past year. The research involved more than 2,000 Canadians who had a history of generalized anxiety disorder.

Factors for improvement

These positive outcomes were seen even in people who had suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for more than a decade, with around a quarter of those long-term sufferers having eventually reached an 'excellent' tier of mental wellbeing.

The ways these improvements were achieved varied, but some factors were more strongly linked to improvements than others. The study found that people who had at least one person who offered them a sense of wellbeing and 'emotional security' were three times as likely to reach that 'excellent' classification compared to people who didn't have such a relationship.

As well, GAD sufferers who had helpful spiritual or religious beliefs were 36-percent more likely to reach the same high level of mental health. The researchers note that belief in a higher power is strongly linked to improvements.

On the flip side, the study also found some factors that decrease an anxious person's odds of reaching excellent mental health, including having poor physical health, suffering from insomnia, experiencing 'functional limitations,' and having a history of depression.