Relationship Anxiety May Harm Your Immunity Functions

Stress of any kind, including that found when your relationships with your loved ones are unstable, can decrease your level of immunity, and increase your chance of getting immune diseases. This has been shown in a recent article, published in Psychological Science.

According to the research, married people were given questionnaires that measured their degree of anxiety around attachment to their partner. Those who suffer from this kind of anxiety tend to seek continual reassurance from their spouse, place a negative spin on those things occurring as part of the relationship, fear being rejected.

While everyone will exhibit concerns every once in a while regarding their relationship, it turns out that having a high level of attachment anxiety leads to people who worry most of the time and in many of their interpersonal relationships.

The Research Study

The researchers wanted to look at the physiological issues related to a person’s anxiety level around their relationships. They took saliva, blood samples from each participant in the study, and measured the amount of immune cells and hormones inside the samples. What they discovered was that those who had high attachment anxiety also had elevated levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. They also had fewer helper T cells and cytotoxic cells, which are responsible for fighting off and killing pathogens.

The data suggest that having attachment anxiety may affect your physiological make up. It provides a modest look at the various pathways through which a person’s social situation affects their overall health, especially when it comes to the immune system.

Relationships and Anxiety

The individuals in the study were not found to have a permanent state of attachment anxiety. It was found that, if the person was in a particularly strong relationship, this could help those who are normally anxious about relationships become more self-assured and calm with regard to the relationship.

This can mean that the immune system dysfunction, including having too much cortisol (which suppresses the immune system) can settle down, improving the previously anxious person’s level of immunity so they don’t catch diseases or get cancer to the degree that they would if they suffered in an anxiety producing relationship.

What You Can Do

You can reduce your level of anxiety around your interpersonal relationships and therefore improve your immunity by attending couples counseling where feelings of anxiety and uncertainty can be addressed satisfactorily. When you feel better about your relationship, the physiological parameters affecting your immune system can improve.

You can also improve your immune system through better communication with your partner and with those you have close relationships to. Communication can help you clear up your anxieties so that you feel more secure in the relationship and suffer from less anxiety. Good communication is the stronghold of a healthy relationship and, when you communicate better with your partner or other loved ones, your level of closeness improves and you feel less anxious about the relationship. It sounds difficult but really, it isn’t. You just have to speak your mind and be prepared to listen to what your loved ones have to say.

If the Relationship is Poor

According to the research, a poor relationship lacking in what it takes for both members of the relationship to be secure in the connection between the two of them, the immune system of both members can suffer. You can lack the ability to fight off pathogens and will get more colds and flu symptoms. Because the immune system is directly related to the ability to get cancer, there may be an increase in the chances of getting cancer as well.