Sadness can cause inflammation that can kill, according to a new study by the US Rice University. The study, which was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinologym examines the effects of sadness on human health.
The researchers conducted interviews and examined the blood of 99 people whose husbands had died recently. They compare people who showed symptoms of increased sadness – such as the deception for the dead, the difficulty to move, the sense that life is meaningless and the inability to accept the reality of the loss – to those who did not show these behaviors.
The researchers found that widows and widows with increased symptoms of sadness suffered up to 17% higher levels of bodily inflammation. And people in the first third of this group had a 53.4% higher level of inflammation than the lowest one third of the group who experienced these symptoms.
The lead author of the study, Chris Fagundes, said: "Previous research has shown that inflammation contributes to almost every disease at an older age. We also know that depression is associated with higher levels of inflammation and those who lose a spouse are at a significantly higher risk of severe depression, heart attack, stroke and premature mortality. However, this is the first study to confirm that sadness – regardless of the levels of depressive symptoms – can promote inflammation, which in turn can cause adverse health effects. "
The study also suggests that those who are widowed are at greater risk of cardiovascular problems, somatic symptoms and premature mortality, comparing the inflammation of people who have had liver disease with their respective controls.
Fagudz said: "This work shows who, among those who have died, are at the highest risk. Now that we know these two key findings, we can design interventions to target this risk factor to those most at risk through behavioral or pharmacological approaches. "