Disorders and Treatment
- Mental Illness
- Bipolar Disorder
- Mood Disorders
- Borderline Personality
- Mental Health Diagnosis
- Mental Health Treatments
- Alternative Meds
- Case Studies
Love sick: attachment anxiety may increase risk of other illness
Concerns and anxieties about your close relationships appear to create a chronic stressor that can eventually compromise immunity.
The source of attachment anxiety may start in childhood. At a young age, children learn whether or not their primary caregivers will respond to their distress. If they do, children will feel confident in their close relationships to provide what they need. If they don’t or are not consistent, children will develop feelings of insecurity.
Stressed couples had higher levels of cortisol and fewer T-cells
Researchers asked 85 couples married for more than 12 years to complete questionnaires about their relationships and tested for stress hormones and immune cells. They reported sleep quality as well.
Research focused on attachment anxiety. Those higher on the anxiety scale worry about the security and future of the relationship. They seek constant reassurance which perpetuates the stress.
For married couples who were high on the stress scale, there was a higher level of the stress hormone cortisol and fewer T-cells, a component of the immune system’s defense against infection, than for couples lower on the scale.
Lisa Jaremka, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in Ohio State University’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research (IBMR), 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.”
Participants with higher anxiety produced 11 percent more cortisol than those with lower attachment anxiety. They also had between 11 and 22 percent fewer T-cells.
Cortisol is known to have immunosuppressive effects, inhibiting production of T-cells. Reduced T-cells can impair immune response to vaccines and are a hallmark of an aging immune system.
Source: Psychological Science
The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.