An interesting study tested to see how stressful interactions can alter our physical and mental health. A study looked into the healing rate of blister wounds on couples in a hostile marriage compared to couples in a happy one.
The folks in a troubled marriage healed at 60% of the rate that of the happy marriage (Kiecolt-Glaser et al, 2005). Not to mention that marital discord increases the risk for depression as well.
There are a large number of reliable studies looking into the relationship between stress and wound healing. Stress slows the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (small secreted proteins released by cells which have a specific effect on the interactions and communications between cells) which are necessary for wound healing. If a person is exposed to sustained stressors, it has broader health implications which are related to a number of age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, certain cancers, frailty and functional decline.
Another study punched holes in the forearms of stressed out caregivers of folks with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and compared the healing rate to non-caregivers living in bliss and showed that they healed caregivers took nine days or 24% longer to heal a small standardised punch biopsy wound than did the well-matched controls (Kiecolt-Glaser, 1995).
Takeaway: Stress slows healing and it’s proven.
Get a divorce!
If abrasive relationships continually produce proinflammatory cytokines over time, then it puts the individual at greater health risks.
Only kidding but there are plenty of personal clients of mine who deal with relational strife which can cause havoc both physically and mentally. And in some of the clients who have found a lasting solution to their physical symptoms resolved them by rooting out noxious people in their lives.
Sources: 1) Kiecolt-Glaser, JK et al, Hostile Marital Interactions, Proinflammatory, Cytokine Production, and Wound Healing, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2005; Vol 62
2) Kiecolt-Glaser, JK et al, Slowing of wound healing by psychological stress, Lancet 1995; Nov 4;346(8984):1194-6.
3) Photo on Foter.com