Relationship anxiety can take a negative toll on the immune system and overall health, making us more vulnerable to illness, according to an Ohio State University study.
Research for this study focused specifically on attachment anxiety. Attachment anxiety can be present in both romantic and family associated relationships. Chronic stress can compromise immunity, and frustrating disagreements with loved ones or exaggerated worry concerning a relationship can fuel anxiety.
Researchers requested 85 married couples, together for more than 12 years, complete questionnaires concerning their relationships. The questionnaire called, “The Experiences in Close Relationships Scale,” inquired on general anxiety symptoms and sleep quality.
Saliva and blood samples were also collected from test participants. Bodily fluids can be tested for stress-related steroidal hormones like cortisol, and immune defense cells like T-cells.
The study revealed partners who demonstrated higher anxiety had increased levels of cortisol (by 11 percent), which has an immunosuppressive effect. They also had decreased levels of T-cells (by 22 percent) present in their samples in comparison to those less stressed.
High anxiety was typically associated with concerns over rejection, neediness, or a negative misinterpretation of ambiguous events in the relationship.
Lisa Jaremka, lead author of the study, explained:
“Everyone has these types of concerns now and again in their relationships, but a high level of attachment anxiety refers to people who have these worries fairly constantly in most of their relationships.”
These symptoms are alterable and not a permanent state of existence, according to analysts. Causes which trigger key stressors should be thoroughly explored. The healthier the communication and understanding in a relationship, the likely the healthier the people engaged in said relationship are.
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