People in Stressful Relationships Risk Death Earlier


With the Memorial Day weekend having recently passed, and summer on the doorstep of the northern hemisphere, many people are looking forward to easing back and appreciating the slower pace of warmer months to full capacity. Some individuals are even preparing for a vacation, hopefully one that work does not drag itself into. While the weather changes based on seasons and proximity to the sun, relationships do not change as methodically, and people who experience frequent stress in their relationships may be risking death earlier. A study from the University of Copenhagen (UC), published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health earlier in May, has provided information toward the end of navigating relationships more wisely.

It is no surprise that experiencing conflict, especially with a close friend or family member, is a painful encounter. But the study has shown that moments of conflict, demands and worries have the potential to accelerate the arrival of death more than expected.

The research was conducted over a period of 11 years, from 2000 to 2011, and used data from 9,875 people. The study subjects were adults ranging from their 30s to 50s, and researchers used their findings of relationship stress to tie into all causes of death during that period.

This study proved to be highly comprehensive and exhaustive, probing not only the causes of death and what was causing stress, but also examining the ways that stressful encounters unfold based on different types of people. Researchers inquired participants about spouses, children, family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Children and spouses ended up being involved in conflicts quite often, with nearly one in every 10 participants responding that their spouse or child was often or always a source of strife and conflict.

Contemporary technology has been aiding psychological and relational studies for years, and this has greatly illuminated the fact that physical struggles are often tied to emotional ones. An earlier death is a risk run by people who allow their stressful relationships to continue unaltered, and this research is showing that it is a very high price to pay. As it turns out, six percent of the men studied within the research period died, and four percent of the women died.

The weight that is brought upon by relationships experiencing verbal tension can create emotional baggage that does not easily wear off. The researchers from UC found that study subjects whom always or often experienced demands and worries in regards to their children would undergo an increase of their death risk by almost 50 percent. Actions that do not always involve physical behaviors can still result in physical consequences by the end of the day.

For individuals on the hunt for employment, the outcomes of worries, conflicts and demands are far graver. The UC study uncovered that when people without a job experience stressful relationship circumstances, they run a risk of death that is four and a half times higher than those currently employed.

The fact that more men were found to have perished from these stressful relationship culminations provides curiosity that could well spur further studies from UC, or other educational hubs. In many ways, the scenarios of modern life that each culture across the world has contributed to are only recently coming to a full light, increasing the understanding that scientists and citizens alike have on the behaviors of humans throughout the Earth.

Death being risked earlier by people in stressful relationships, and such data being collected from researchers, should be a loud call toward psychologists and family counselors to ensure that their methodology is as current as possible. Time will only tell whether or not people will continue allowing themselves to succumb to laziness within relationships, or form new habits from the ground up.

Opinion by Brad Johnson


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