This is a link to Bruce Schneier’s Blog with comments included because I thought some of them were very insightful as well. His posting has links to the original article and study.
First, is it news that stress in general is unhealthy? Back in the “Health food” kicks of the 80s (ok, yeah that starts to put dates to my age, but that’ll be a different post) I used to joke the the stress of worrying about your diet might just kill you faster than the food iteself. It seems I was unwittingly correct. 🙂
Second, fear (a stress factor) can come from many sources, so pinning the blame on terrorism is a bit of reach. Ok, it is probably true, but the same can be said for fear of any variety of fear for which you don’t manage the associated stress. The key is in the management of the stress.
Fight or flight instincts go way back into our history, and it can be argued that some stresses cause performance increases as the body’s response is to pump the system full of adrenaline and prepare for that fight or flight. However those elevated levels of performance are intended (so it seems) to be short term. Living under a constant threat wears us out, so our brain and body learn ways to diffuse the stresses and return our body to its normal state.
So while I’m sure someone got a master’s degree, or a publication credit, I wonder if we really needed a study to tell us the being scared and stressed is not a good thing.