GlycanAge is a biological age test paired with expert advice to help guide your wellness.

Mind Over Matter - The Impact of Mental Health on Biological Age

We often focus on physical health and its effects on one’s GlycanAge result, leaving mental health on the back burner. Today, we’re changing that with an emotional interview that showcases the parts that are rarely spoken about - men’s mental health.
Vanja Maganjić

Some of you may be aware of Dubravko's story. The last time I interviewed him, he shared how a health scare led him to make some big lifestyle changes and the role GlycanAge played in this process.

3 years later, he agreed to a follow-up interview that dives deep into the effects of trauma and mental health, in an effort to help anyone else who might be struggling. 

The last time I interviewed you, your GlycanAge was 37. What is your result now?

Now my biological age is 45, that’s still a pretty good result, seeing how I’m 51 chronologically.

Unfortunately, I had a bad period that reflected in my result. It all started with the death of my brother. He was battling diabetes for a long time and ultimately passed away from complications with COVID.

Then my mom died, also from COVID and months later, my other brother died from lung cancer. This all happened in a span of a year.  

As you can imagine, it was a horrible time for me.

I’m so sorry to hear that. How did you deal with all that loss?

A few days before we buried my mother I had my first panic attack. I didn’t know it was a panic attack at the time, I thought that I was experiencing a heart attack.

I had all the symptoms - my heart was racing, I had shortness of breath and dizziness, so naturally I called an ambulance. They knew all the right questions to ask and explained over the phone that it was just a panic attack.

One of the questions they asked was - if I recently had any stressful/emotionally charged situations, and I told them about my mother dying.

In the end, they didn’t even send an ambulance, since we worked everything out over the phone. Luckily that relaxed me a bit, but it was a scary situation because when a panic attack hits, you lose control over your body.

My second panic attack happened while I was driving. I had all the same symptoms - dizziness, shortness of breath, and this overall horrible feeling. I had to find a rest stop to park my car and get out.

That was a real turning point for me. It was almost like an emotional discharge. All of those feelings that I never sat with and never felt came bubbling to the surface.

Don’t get me wrong, I did grieve, but there was a lot going on under the surface.

My third panic attack happened while I was on a work trip in Tenerife. It woke me up in the middle of the night and I actually ended up in the hospital.

It was the worst panic attack I ever had. I really thought I was going to die. It’s so similar to a heart attack. At 2 in the morning, I went to the front desk of the hotel, completely covered in sweat. I was going in and out of consciousness and I asked for an ambulance.

I was in the hospital for the whole night, they ran so many tests and everything came back fine. It was such a shock to me that a panic attack can look so similar to a heart attack. Your adrenalin starts pumping, your heart starts racing and it messes up your blood pressure.

But as soon as you hear the doctor say - You’re ok, all the symptoms go away.

That whole year was a very stressful period of my life. I couldn't stick to my routine - I wasn’t working out, sleeping or going for walks… everything fell apart.

I work in Finland, all of my family tragedies were happening in Croatia and I would fly back and forth on a weekly basis. It’s impossible to keep a healthy lifestyle with all that travel.

And when I tested my GlycanAge, I was really curious to see what the result would be.

When I saw 45, I was very happy, because I was expecting to be older than my chronological age. 

Right after the test, I got COVID-19. It wasn't intense, but in the long run, it left me with a lot of negative effects on my body.  

I would wake up in the morning with pain all over. I had intense muscle cramps and I knew that going back to my optimal state would take quite some time.

What did you do to start getting back to your routine?

My panic attacks drove me to see a sociologist. Not a psychiatrist, but a sociologist, and in just 4 visits they helped me so much.

They guided me through grieving, stressful situations, and such. The experience helped me put the pieces back together. I’ve even started meditating and over time, I have become able to predict a bad episode and use these relaxation techniques to stop them before they manifest.

I also had to take care of my body, because in one moment, my pressure started to rise. I had high blood pressure for almost a year and had to measure it twice a day. I couldn’t get it down with a change of diet, even though I completely cut out salt, dairy and spicy food. I also ate less meat, focusing on a plant-based diet.  

After all that I had to take blood pressure medication, but only for 3 months. My pressure stabilised after that and, for 6 months now, I’ve been off medication and with no problems.

Now my goal is to get back to my old lifestyle. I’ve given myself 6 months to get back to the old me.

I want to be able to go on a run like before. I used to be able to run 10 kilometres 4 times a week. But for the last 6 months just getting out of bed has been hard. It takes me an hour just to stretch out so that I’m not so stiff. On some days I couldn’t even bend over.

I’m looking forward to making progress on that front, as well as losing some weight.

Have the panic attacks stopped? Is there anything you can do to stop them from happening?

It starts with pressure on my chest and develops into laboured breathing. I try to shift my focus onto something else. If that doesn’t work, I just remove myself from the situation and do breathing exercises. After about 30 minutes it all goes away.

Experiencing panic attacks leaves this physiological scar on you because you start to think - if this is really the end, have I done everything I wanted to do with my time on Earth?

They make you lose sleep, at least they did to me because I would be up at night thinking about my health and whether there was a test I forgot to do, which would uncover some serious condition brewing.

I want to get back to my healthy way of living. I want to build confidence and be able to trust my body again. I’ve done every test imaginable, even a brain MRI.

All this anxiety comes from seeing my brother die from lung cancer. The only symptom he had was back pain, but when he went for an MRI, it showed that the cancer had metastasised all over the place. He died fairly quickly after that, and by the time he was gone, he had lost half of his weight.

It was such a galloping disease that it left me in shock. I’m still shocked and it’s so hard to believe that this man that was bigger than me died with less than 50 kilograms.

I'm so sorry to hear that and I truly hope that better times are ahead. What do you expect from your next test?

A lower result! I’m sure I can achieve a better result.

GlycanAge is a great tool. It’s quick enough to give you a warning about a possible condition while you still have time to react but slow enough that you don’t have to get tested every month. Getting tested every year, or every 2 years gives you a great picture of your health. That’s why I love the test.

And you don’t have to wait for panic attacks to wake you up. You can meditate, keep a healthy lifestyle, and surround yourself with like-minded people.

I’m happy to say that I’m going back to windsurfing and other activities. It’s so well shown in my GlycanAge results just how much physical activity helps. When my result was 37, I was walking for 7 km every day. I didn’t use my car at all.

Now I want to make sure that the first thing I do in the morning is go for a run.

Vanja Maganjić

Start or continue your GlycanAge journey

Don’t be afraid to reach out to us and ask questions, provide commentary or suggest topics.