Is Relationship Stress Impacting Your Health?

Relationships can be hard on your emotions, but relationship stress can actually cause significant detriments to your health. As discovered in a long-term study, having stressful relationships during middle age could lead to a decline in cognitive function later in life.

The study compiled data on 5,873 British civil servants who underwent cognitive testing during a 10-year time span, beginning while they were in middle age. They were tested for verbal memory and fluency, and also completed questionnaires about their personal relationships. This evaluation was repeated four times throughout the study.

Negative relationships take a measurable toll

The study singled out both positive and negative aspects of relationships. The questions focused on the worries, problems and stress produced from those relationships. They also looked at the level of support that was felt, and positive aspects such as self-esteem and supportive behaviors.

The effects were distinctly different between negative and positive relationship experiences. The participants with the most negative aspects from personal relationships were the ones that typically exhibited more rapid cognitive aging effects. The extent of the difference between negative and positive relationships was equal to an additional year of aging.

Researchers hypothesize that it is the strain and stress within a social relationship that directly impacts the decline of cognitive functions.

People with more negative relationship history were also more prone to displaying symptoms of diabetes and depression. Subjects of the study who were in a positive relationship were found to be more socially interactive, and had longer lifespans. They also reported that they felt they had an improved quality of life.

It can be tough on your heart

According to an American Medical Association (AMA) study published in 2000, women with a moderate to severe level of marital strain had a 2.9 times increased risk for eventual heart surgery, possible heart attacks, or death by heart disease compared to women in happy marital relationships. This finding was valid even when age, general state of health and other factors were taken into consideration.

A subsequent study published in the American Journal of Cardiology in 2006 revealed that the quality of marital relationships and socially supportive relationships had a direct bearing on the incidence and control of chronic heart related illnesses.

Less sleep and other issues

Divorce,problems - Young couple angry at each otherResearch has proven that insecurity and conflicts in relationships are directly associated with poor sleep patterns. There is also an established connection between relationship stress and an increased likelihood for developing social anxiety and anxiety disorder.

Depression and anxiety are often linked together. According to a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 2000, women were more than six times as likely to end up with clinical depression if they had experienced cheating husbands or divorce.

For the sake of your health, may your relationship be a joyous one!

-The Alternative Daily


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