Life Goals Key to Combating Mental Illness, Says Study
People who create and don’t give up on goals have less anxiety, depression and panic attacks, according to a study of thousands of people over the course of 18 years.
Lead Author of the study, Nur Hani Zainal, MS, said: “Perseverance cultivates a sense of purposefulness that can create resilience against or decrease current levels of major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
“Looking on the bright side of unfortunate events has the same effect because people feel that life is meaningful, understandable and manageable.”
Zainal and his team used data from 3,294 adults who were studied over 18 years.
The average age of participants was 45 and slightly fewer than half were college-educated.
Data were collected three times; 1995 to 1996, 2004 to 2005 and 2012 to 2013.
People who showed more goal persistence and optimism during the first assessment in the mid-1990s had greater reductions in depression, anxiety and panic disorders across the 18 years, according to the authors.
Unlike previous research, Zainal and his team did not find that self-mastery or feeling in control of one’s fate had an effect on the mental health of participants across the 18-year period.
The authors believe their findings will be beneficial for psychotherapists working with clients dealing with depression, anxiety and panic disorders.
Read more: How to Find Your Purpose in Life