Scientists have known for some time that stress causes wounds to heal more slowly. Researchers in the Department of Medical Microbiology at Ohio State University found the hormones produced from psychological stress inhibit wound healing by slowing the body’s natural healing processes.
Stress hormones slow the delivery of cytokines to the site of the injury, which slows the healing process. Cytokines are the chemicals produced by cells to heal injuries and fight off infections.
Negative emotions contribute to delayed wound healing and prolonged infection. A study at the Department of Psychiatry The Ohio State University discovered that negative emotions actually fuel sustained proinflammatory cytokine production, which in turn slows wound healing. Accordingly, stress-related immune dysregulation is the core mechanism behind a large and diverse set of health risks associated with negative emotions.
Marital stress has been shown to slow wound healing. In a study of 42 couples married at least 12 years, researchers learned that the stress a typical married couple feels during an ordinary half-hour argument is enough to slow their bodies’ ability to heal from wounds by at least one day.
If the couple’s relationship is routinely hostile or abusive, the delay in healing can be doubled. Blood samples taken from highly hostile couples showed comprised immune systems. This indicates an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, type-2 diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and periodontal disease.