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Relationship anxiety is bad for your health

A recent study from Ohio State University has found that concerns and anxieties about one’s close relationships appear to function as a chronic stressor that can compromise immunity.

The research focused on attachment anxiety. Those who are on the high end of the attachment anxiety spectrum are excessively concerned about being rejected, have a tendency to constantly seek reassurance that they are loved, and are more likely to interpret ambiguous events in a relationship as negative.

Married partners who were more anxiously attached produced higher levels of cortisol, a steroid hormone that is released in response to stress, and had fewer T cells – important components of the immune system’s defense against infection – than did participants who were less anxiously attached.

Lead author of the study, Lisa Jaremka, commented that she was not aware of any research-based advice about how to shed these feelings of insecurity, but said that it is clear that people can change.

“Most research that does exist in this area supports the idea that being in very caring, loving, close relationships might be a catalyst to change from being very anxious to not,” she said.

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