Study: Relationship Anxiety Leads to Greater Health Risks

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Though most people associate being in love with being happy and comfortable, some people associate it with anxiety. A recent study shows that those who experience anxiety in love are putting their health at risk.

The study, conducted by Ohio State University, focused on attachment anxiety, something which can happen when lovers worry over disagreements or stress over rejection and neediness.

They found that chronic stress from attachment anxiety can lead to a compromised immune system, making those in such relationships to be at risk of illness.

It consisted of 85 married couples who have been together for more than 12 years. They completed questionnaires about their relationships called “The Experiences in Close Relationships Scale.” It questioned the participants’ anxiety symptoms and sleep quality.

Researchers also took blood and saliva samples from participants to determine levels of stress-related hormones, like cortisol, and immune defense cells like T-cells.

When completed, the study indicated that those with greater anxiety had higher levels of stress hormones and lower levels of T-cells.

Those with higher anxiety usually had concerns of rejection, neediness, or negative misinterpretations of events that occurred in the relationship.

Lead author Lisa Jaremka said, “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.”

The study indicates that these symptoms are not permanent and can be changed by those experiencing them if the triggers are explored and removed. If healthy communication exists in the relationship, the couple is less likely to experience an increase in stress hormones.

Some scientists have theorized that attachment anxiety is traced to inconsistent care during infancy, but Jarmeka said there is also evidence that people with attachment anxiety can develop it later on.

When one is anxiously attached, they are more likely to seek reassurance that they’re loved and are more likely to interpret ambiguous events as negative.