Stressful Relationships

Lead to Mental Decline

Stressful Relationships. Healthy Living Magazine

Stressful Relationships. Healthy Living Magazine

A 10- year study on relationships, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows the ones that are most stressful with problems and worries lead to loss of mental sharpness far faster than ones whose partners provide positive affirming behaviors.

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“Any relationship involves both positive and negative exchanges, especially those close relationships that are most likely to evoke ambivalent sentiments,” Jing Liao of University College London told the media. “Negative aspects of close relationships refer to unpleasant social exchanges when the recipient finds the relationship ineffective, intrusive or over-controlling.” And for those who experience the top third of bad relationships, it ages them prematurely.

Some 5,873 civil servants in the United Kingdom were tested for a decade beginning in 1997. Verbal memory and fluency and recall power were measured. The most stressed felt lack of support from those around them and suffered higher rates of depression and diabetes. Those study participants whose partners provided positive and affirming behaviors did not experience the decline. The top third of negative relationships added one year of premature aging.

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The researchers say their study suggests the need to immediately adapt behaviors, especially having partners with coping skills so that together the relationship is empowered with largely positive imprints.

“These differences in cognitive decline, though small, could be traced back to risk factors in midlife,” Liao says. “Given (that) the incidence of dementia increases exponentially with advancing age and no effective medicine is currently available, our study provides evidence of what risk factors could be targeted before cognitive changes are irreversible. There is evidence that, in general, those with a partner or those who are less socially isolated report better quality of life and live longer.”

REFERENCE American Journal of Epidemiology, online October 22, 2014.
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