- Worry can be dangerous to your health
By Barrington H. Brennen,
I worry a lot, and now I am getting sick because of it. What can I do?
Worrying has no positive effect. In fact, it can be deadly. You can die of worry
long before the situation you are worrying about is corrected. Worry is the
cause of much domestic strife, business failures, social injustices, economic
crises, seemingly incurable sicknesses, and premature death says John Haggai in
his book "How to Win Over Worry."
is the public enemy Number One, not only because of its devastating effects upon
the individuals involved, but also because of the way it ravages society.
Charles Allen in his book, "Victory in the Valley of Life," states:
"We need to remember that the very existence of a problem is proof that
there is a solution . . . The entire world is based on a system of opposites:
good and evil, high and low, day and night, love and hate, long and short, pain
and pleasure, sickness and health, and on and on they go." When we know
there is a solution, a lot of worry goes out of any situation.
Dr. Dorothy McCoy, in her article “The Evolution of Worry” states:
system in your body is affected by worry. In addition to raising blood pressure
and increasing blood clotting, worry can prompt your liver to produce more
cholesterol, all of which can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. Muscle
tension can give rise to headaches, back pain, and other body aches. Worry can
also trigger an increase in stomach acid and either slow or speed up muscle
contractions in your intestines, which can lead to stomach aches, constipation,
diarrhea, gas or heartburn. Worry can affect your skin (rash or itch). It can
impact your respiratory system by aggravating asthma. Growing evidence even
suggests that chronic worry can compromise your immune system, making you more
vulnerable to bacteria, viruses, perhaps even cancer.”
word "worry" comes from the Greek word "merimnao" which is a
combination of two words: "to divide" and "mind." Worry then
means to "divide the mind." It means when you worry, you divide the
mind between worthwhile interests and damaging thoughts. James 1:8 gives us a
strange verse for this: "A double-minded man is unstable in all his
ways." In other words, James is saying that a person whose mind is divided
is unstable in all his or her ways: the emotions, the thought processes, the
decisions, and judgments. To have peace, you need singleness of mind.
"Worry divides the feelings. Therefore, the emotions lack stability. Worry
divides the understanding. Therefore, convictions are shallow and changeable.
Worry divides the faculty of perception. Therefore, observations are faulty and
even false. Worry divides the faculty of judging. Therefore, attitudes and
decisions are often unjust. These decisions lead to damage and grief"
(Haggai). Henry Ward Beecher once said: "It is not work that kills people.
It is worry. Work is healthy. You can hardly put more work on a person that he
or she can bear. Worry is rust upon the blade. It is not the revolution that
destroys the machinery, but the friction. Worry secretes acids, but love and
trust are sweet juices."
you worry in the extreme, you lose the power of the will. Why? Because the mind
is so divided, it cannot act on one action. It is like the mule who stood
between two bundles of hay and starved to death trying to decide from which
stack to eat. In other words, worry can lead to a nervous breakdown. In this
situation, the pressures have grown so great as a result of the divided mind,
that the victim ceases to struggle over his or her problems and responds in a
depressed and passive manner.
psychology, several terms can be used to describe or explain worry in some
form. Some of these terms are anxiety, phobia, and hypochondriasis, just to
name a few. According to the psychologist "bible" called the
"Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," 4th
edition, "hypochondriasis is the preoccupation with the fear of having,
or the idea that one has, a serious disease based on the person’s
misinterpretation of symptoms of bodily functions." I simply call this
worrying about your physical health to the point that you really get sick.
If one’s anxiety and worry are accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, lack
of concentration, irritability, muscle tension or disturbed sleep, and if
other psychological factors are present, a psychologist may diagnose such a
person with generalized anxiety disorder.
amazing how powerful the human mind is. Worry can lead to many diseases: heart
problems, hypertension, diabetes, and even headaches to name a few. On the other
hand, worry can destroy relationships, break down trust, and shatter one’s
spiritual relationship. John Haggai states: "When you worry, you accuse God
of falsehood." God’s word says ". . . .All things work together for
good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his
purpose." Romans 8:28. Worrying is calling God a liar. Worry is sin. Why?
Because you distrust God and destroy the body God asked you to care for.
How can we tell if someone is worrying? Here are a few examples of worry
behaviors: frequent telephone calls to loved ones at work or at home, refusal to
read obituaries or other negative events in the newspaper, and cleaning one’s
house daily in the event that someone drops by (Barlow, 1993). A person may not
see that these behaviors contribute to the maintenance of anxiety.
friend, I do not know the reason why you worry, but one important principle you
must remember, worry is a choice. Yes, we choose to worry. It is not thrust upon
us. We are not coerced to worry. Therefore, we can choose not to worry. How can
we ask a mother or father not to worry about their wayward son or daughter? It
is natural for parents to be concerned. It is natural for parents to
"worry" if their son would get into trouble, if he refuses to listen
and respect their wishes. But when worry drives us up a wall, sap us of vital
powers to think, eat, and live, then the problem becomes worry itself, not the
child. Choose not to worry so you can have power to think and to respond
intelligently. Choose not to worry so you can give unconditional love in return
to the one who is causing the pain. Remember one must have a single mind, not a
double one. Worrying is having a double mind that cannot serve intelligently
you are a father worrying about your pregnant fourteen-year-old daughter who
hasn’t been home for two weeks because she is living with her boyfriend,
remember worry will sap you of the energy to truly love her when she
returns. For she will return someday. Pray for her. If you are a grandmother
worrying about your son’s failing business and marriage, remember he is
depending on your strength, stability, and energy. For one day he will come
and cry on your shoulder. Pray for him. If you are an entrepreneur and worry
about the escalating costs and threats to shut down the business, remember
if you worry when the business shuts down, you are going down with it. Love
those muscles. Exercise is a fantastic way to relieve stress, burn calories,
decrease depression and work toward wellness.
Dr. McCoy advises:
the worry before it has the opportunity to take control of your emotions and
thoughts. You must work quickly and strike when you first become aware of the
negative thoughts that fuel worry. Do something: exercise, splash cold water
on your face, snap a rubber band, call a friend, or see a big flashing stop
sign in your mind's eye. You may want to listen to a relaxing music or go on a
mini vacation in your mind. Whatever you choose should channel your thoughts
in another more positive direction. Practice, Practice, Practice. It will soon
become second nature to relax, exercise, or change thoughts, rather than doing
the old counter-productive worrying.”
it is natural for us to be concerned about problems in our lives. However, worry
is Satan’s strategy to weaken us so we can fall on our knees in distress and
give up. Don’t give him that chance. Choose not to worry today.
Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, is a marriage and family therapist and
board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments
or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit
or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.