Friday, June 09, 2006

Stress and Healing Time

A new study has shown that stress that a typical married couple feels during an ordinary argument lasting a half an hour, is enough to slow sown their bodies' ability to heal from wounds by at least one day. It also shows that if the couple argues frequently, the healing process may even double. Some believe that this study may have major financial implications for medical centers and health care insurers.
Reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry, it is the latest discovery in a series of experiments spanning three decades at the Ohio State University's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. Their work has been aimed at identifying and then explaining the ways psychological stress can affect the immune system.
Researchers focused on 42 married couples who had been together for an average of 12 years. All were admitted into the General Clinical Research Center for two, 24 hour visits. These visits wee also separated by a two month interval.
Using a small suction device, they created eight tiny blisters on their arms that the researchers used to gauge the healing process. During the first visit, each spouse had a supportive, positive discussion about some characteristic or behavior that he or she would like to change. But during the second visit, they were asked to talk about a disagreement that had an emotional element to it.
both visits were videotaped and those tapes were used to gauge the couples level of hostility. The fluid accumulation at the wound sites and peripheral blood samples were taken from all. The analyzed data showed:
-The wounds took one day longer to heal after arguments than they did after the positive discussion.
-Those with high levels of hostility took two days longer to heal. They healed at about 60 percent of the the rate of those considered to have low levels of hostility.
-The blood samples from the hostile couples had levels of one cytokine, interleukin-6, increase one and a half times more than the other couples. Cytokines are key elements within the immune system that help balance the right immune response. Although high levels of this at a wound site stimulate the healing process, those levels circulating through the blood stream is a problem. These high levels have been linked to long term inflammation, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, certain cancers and Alzheimer's.

No comments: