Today's "Let's spend good research money to demonstrate the obvious" story comes from Purdue University, where an exhaustive study has shown that people can, indeed, worry themselves to death:
Chronic worrying, anxiety and being prone to depression are key aspects of the personality trait of neuroticism. In this study, the researchers looked at how smoking and heavy drinking are associated with the trait. A person with high neuroticism is likely to experience anxiety or depression and may self-medicate with tobacco, alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.
The study makes no reference to the equally stunning possibility that happy people do not self-medicate and therefore are likely to live longer, undoubtedly because the research hasn't been completed yet. And what happens, by the way, if I'm one of those with neuroticism (I'm not saying I am, so don't worry about it, OK?) and I want to be happier? Can I go to the personality-trait store and get a good trade-in deal for aggreeableness? Would I have to pay extra if I also wanted a little extraversion? How about a cash-for-clunkers program so I can get stodgy old hangups off the emotional highway?