Anxiety, Health Risk Factors, and Chronic Disease

Craig N. Sawchuk, Bunmi O. Olatunji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition and frequently co-occur with a variety of health risk factors, such as physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption. As such, untreated anxiety and increased risk for engagement in these health risk habits can further increase risk for later-onset chronic disease and complications in disease management. Contemporary studies have identified unique temporal relationships between the onset of specific anxiety disorders with smoking and alcohol use disorders. Incorporating exercise with evidence-based treatments for anxiety is emerging and promising in enhancing treatments for anxiety-related conditions. Likewise, substance use treatment programs may benefit from the detection and management of anxiety. Collaborative care models for anxiety may provide the needed systems-based approach for treating anxiety more effectively in primary and specialty care medical settings. Based on a qualitative review of the literature, this article summarizes the current research on the associations between anxiety, health risk factors, and the risk for chronic diseases. The authors also offer suggestions for future research that would help in better understanding the complex relationships between the role anxiety plays in the vulnerability for and management of physical inactivity and substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-541
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • alcohol
  • anxiety
  • chronic disease
  • physical inactivity
  • smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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