Relationship Insecurity May Undermine Your Health

SATURDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) — People who feel insecure in their relationships may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and other health problems, according to a new Canadian study.

In fact, those who felt insecure in relationships or avoided getting close to others appeared to have a greater risk of developing several chronic diseases, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey Replication.

Researchers studied survey data from 5,645 adults, ages 18 to 60, and found an association between “avoidant attachment” — people who feel unable to get close to others or have others depend on them — and chronic pain, such as frequent or severe headaches.

People who were insecure in their relationships had further risks. “Anxious attachment” — a tendency to worry about rejection in relationships, feel overly needy and find that others are reluctant to get close — was associated with a wide range of health problems, including heart-related diseases, such as stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure. Anxious attachment was also linked to a higher risk of chronic pain and ulcers.

The study was recently published in the journal Health Psychology.

“Much of the health research regarding attachment has focused on pain conditions, so we were initially surprised that some of our strongest findings involved conditions related to the cardiovascular system,” lead author Lachlan A. McWilliams, of Acadia University, said in an American Psychological Association news release.

“These findings suggest that insecure attachment may be a risk factor for a wide range of health problems, particularly cardiovascular diseases. Longitudinal research on this topic is needed to determine whether insecure attachment predicts the development of cardiovascular disease and the occurrence of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks.”

McWilliams added that the findings “also raise the possibility that interventions aimed at improving attachment security could also have positive health outcomes.”

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about how emotions affect your health.