Fighting with your friends and loved ones can be a drag, but what if it actually killed you?
According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, stressful social relationships can be linked to higher mortality rates.
Specifically, people who experienced worry and demands at the hands of a significant other or child had a 50-100 percent increase in mortality risk.
Also, people who had constant conflict with anyone (significant other, children, friends, family members, etc.) were linked to an increased mortality rate.
The study used 9,875 male and female participants ages 36-52 years old. Data came from the Danish Longitudinal Study on Work, Unemployment and Health.
“Stressful social relations are associated with increased mortality risk among middle-aged men and women for a variety of different social roles,” according to the study authors. “Those outside the labour force and men seem especially vulnerable to exposure.”
Alisa Ruby Bash, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said in an email that the study results make sense, because it’s known that stress and depression are associated with many physical health conditions like heart disease and chronic pain.
“In my experience with patients, there is an undeniable connection between stressful relationships and poor mental health,” she added.
She has treated a variety of patients who had stressful relationships who eventually died, potentially as a result of that stress.
“Painful familial relationships, as well as toxic romantic relationships, have triggered many addictions, and resulted in numerous relapses, which have resulted in early death, tragically for some,” Ruby Bash said.
She said stress as a result of spouses, children and parents can sometimes make women feel like they’re suffocating, since often there is no downtime or a way to escape.
“I have seen this type of stress contribute to anxiety, depression, and suicide,” Ruby Bash said. “These relationships can also set off underlying mental illnesses, which can put patients at greater risk for dangerous grave situations, which can end in death.”