Washington, Feb 12 — Being jittery about close relationships acts as a chronic stressor and can compromise immunity, suggests an American research.
Researchers from Ohio State University’s Institute for Behavioural Medicine Research (IBMR) queried married couples about relationships and collected saliva and blood samples to test their levels of stress-related hormone cortisol and numbers of certain immune cells.
Anxiety ridden married partners produced higher levels of cortisol and had fewer T cells – immune system’s sentinels against infection – than did participants who were less anxiously attached, according to an Ohio statement.
“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,” said Lisa Jaremka, postdoctoral fellow at Ohio’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research (IBMR), who led the study.
Jaremka and colleagues tested the effect of attachment anxiety on 85 couples who had been married for an average of more than 12 years. Their average age was 39 years.
Those with higher attachment anxiety produced, on average, 11 percent more cortisol than did those with lower attachment anxiety. The more anxiously attached participants also had between 11 percent and 22 percent fewer T cells than did less anxiously attached partners. Four T-cell markers were analysed in the study.