Heidi works with top-rated life insurance carriers to bring her clients the highest quality protection at the most competitive prices. She is a wife, mom, and former school teacher, specializing in helping families. As parents, it's our responsibility to ensure our family is financially sound, regardless of what life brings. Her goal is to make the process of obtaining life insurance as simp...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 17, 2020

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Life insurance options, with an anxiety diagnosis, are researched all the time. And often, you’re left feeling frustrated because your question,  “How does my anxiety affect buying life insurance?“, is left unanswered.

To be fair, it can be complicated. But, it’s not impossible to find answers and a path forward.

Think of it this way – Princess Leia (anxiety) thought Han Solo (life insurance) was impersonal and difficult initially. In the end, they liked one another and created a partnership.

Here’s the deal: your anxiety can affect life insurance rates. However, there are always life insurance options for you, regardless of how severe your anxiety is.

Let’s breakdown what you need to know about securing life insurance when you have anxiety:

Everyone experiences anxiety and nervousness. But, for some of us, anxiety becomes strong enough to interfere with our daily lives.

Life Insurance and Anxiety Overview

We’re not alone. Anxiety is the number one mental health condition diagnosed in the United States.

Anxiety Disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States. – NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health)

Anxiety is incredibly common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Mayo Clinic and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

  • 40 million people in the United States have an anxiety disorder
  • Women are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety than men
  • Only 42% of those with anxiety reported receiving treatment within the last 12 months
  • 23% of those with anxiety is diagnosed with a severe form

There are risk factors that increase your odds of developing anxiety:

  • Being female
  • Exposure to stressful events, such as –
    • Divorce
    • Death of a loved one
    • Childhood trauma or abuse
    • Chronic illness
  • Close biological relative with an anxiety disorder

Physical symptoms of anxiety vary. Commonly, you will experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Heavy breathing
  • Digestive discomfort
  • Chronic pain

Mentally, you will often feel:

  • Worried
  • Tired
  • Irritable
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Desire to avoid trigger situations

Anxiety is closely related to other mental health conditions:

The good news: Anxiety is highly treatable.

Effective forms of treatment include:

  • Psychotherapy (also known as counseling) – working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms
  • Medications – there are several prescription drugs used to alleviate symptoms:
  • Stress reduction techniques:
    • Taichi
    • Yoga
    • Wellness coaching

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Anxiety and Life Insurance Underwriting Process

While it’s seemingly impersonal, the reality is – life insurance carriers are in the business of assessing risk (known as underwriting).

Underwriting is the process that allows a life insurance company to decide how much risk you pose and charge you accordingly for your life insurance contract.

There are five ways anxiety can affect your life insurance application (grab a pen):

1. Date of Diagnosis

Life insurance carriers will want to know how long you’ve had anxiety. More specifically, they’re interested in how well your anxiety is being managed.

The length of time you’ve had anxiety can pose a higher risk if you’ve been unable to effectively treat it.

2. Treatment Type

You will be asked about the treatment you’re currently receiving or have received in the past:

  1. Psychotherapy – do you work with a therapist? If so, how often do you see the therapist? How long have you worked with a therapist?
  2. Are you receiving other forms of treatment? If so, what kind(s)?

3. Medications

The type, dosage, and how often you take anxiety medication is accounted for in a life insurance application.

Some medications pose possible adverse side-effects that life insurance carriers will want to know about.

Common medications prescribed for anxiety include:

  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor): citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline
  • SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor): venlafaxine, duloxetine
  • Antidepressants: amitriptyline, imipramine, nortriptyline
  • Benzodiazepine (muscle-relaxant): alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam

4. Hospitalization?

A hospitalization can negatively affect your life insurance application. Again, remember that carriers are interested in risk.

If you have been hospitalized for your anxiety, it could indicate that it is not well-controlled.

Underwriters will ask:

  1. Have you been hospitalized for your anxiety?
  2. If so, when?
  3. How many times have you been hospitalized?
  4. What was the outcome of your hospitalization?

5. Missed Work?

Many with anxiety report struggling at work. It’s common to have:

  • Interpersonal difficulties with coworkers
  • Problems with output demand
  • Work productivity issues
  • Missed work

You will be asked if it has ever been necessary for you to miss work due to your anxiety. Missing work is a possible indication that your anxiety is more severe

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Getting Life Insurance With Anxiety: Case Studies

Generally, anxiety is placed into one of three categories during life insurance underwriting: mild, moderate or severe. Let’s consider the following examples:

  1. Rachel was diagnosed with anxiety one year ago. She experiences only mild effects from her anxiousness. She does not need to see a therapist and rarely needs medication. Rachel works at a coffee shop and doesn’t miss work. Rachel would likely qualify for Preferred to Standard rates for life insurance. Mild anxiety is not viewed as a strong risk to life insurance companies.
  2. Ross was diagnosed with anxiety five years ago. He experiences moderate effects from his anxiousness. For example, he is a paleontologist and misses work from time to time (but no more than 2 weeks each year). Ross regularly takes a standard dosage of citalopram to manage his anxiety symptoms. He will periodically work with his therapist to create a plan for healthy lifestyle habits. Ross has not been hospitalized for his anxiety. Ross would likely qualify for Standard to Rated life insurance. Rated life insurance approval means you still qualify for traditional life insurance, however, you will pay a surcharge on your premiums.
  3. Monica was diagnosed with anxiety 10 years ago. She experiences severe effects from her anxiousness. Unfortunately, Monica’s crippling anxiety causes her to miss her job as a chef for about two months each year. It was necessary for her to be hospitalized due to major physical symptoms from anxiety. Monica meets with her therapist twice a week and has been prescribed different SSRIs, antidepressants, and occasionally a muscle-relaxant. She is collaborating with her physician to find the most effective medication and treatment plan. Monica would likely receive a strongly Rated approval or a Decline for traditional life insurance*.

*Even if Monica was declined for traditional life insurance, there are always life insurance options available, such as a Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Policy.

Apply For Life Insurance with Anxiety

Not all life insurance carriers view anxiety in the same light. That’s why it’s essential to partner with an independent life insurance agent who has experience in helping clients with anxiety find high-quality life insurance at a competitive price.

Independent agents are not held captive to a particular carrier and have your best interest at heart. You will receive multiple quotes from multiple carriers to find the best policy for you.