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Bad Marriage Raises Stress Levels For Men and Women


March 19, 2010 | Published by

arguing coupleYour relationship could be literally killing you, and it may be more important to fix a bad marriage than fix a time with your doctor for that next check-up. A recent study has shown that men and women who are in bad marriages take that stress to work with them, thereby increasing their risk of developing heart disease and diabetes and other chronic complaints stemming from stress.

“What is happening is that marital problems are spilling into the workplace,” said Brandeis University’s Rosalind Barnett, one of the study’s authors, in a news release. “And if these tensions persist over time, there could be serious health problems.”

In the study, which was published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Barnett and colleagues looked at 105 middle-aged married adults — 67 men and 38 women — to determine the relationship between the quality of their marriage and several physical and mental stress indicators.

Participants’ feelings about their marriage were assessed using a standardized scale. Then, their blood pressure and levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, determined from saliva samples, were checked throughout a working day. Those who expressed more marital concerns had higher blood pressure during the workday. They also had higher morning cortisol levels, with fewer changes in levels over the course of the day than those with fewer marital concerns. People who scored worse on the marital quality scale also reported feeling more stress.

Over time, high cortisol levels can increase your risk for obesity, diabetes, depression, immune problems and more, while high blood pressure raises the risk of heart attack and stroke. Contrary to what some may expect, these effects were seen in both men and women.

“It’s generally assumed that primary relationships are more critical to women’s psychological well-being than men’s, but this is not the case,” Barnett said. “When there is marital concern, men and women are equally affected.” (Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2009)

Comment by Eric Bakker, ND:

Here is yet another study highlighting the relationship with emotional conflict creating long term ill health by way of altering the sensitive stress mechanism of the human body. Countless studies have shown that high cortisol levels (a hormone produced by the adrenal gland) which stays high can lead to many chronic degenerative diseases for which pharmaceutical drugs are conveniently prescribed by your doctor. There are some enlightened doctors however who do understand the relationship with stress and health, and here are a few comments I received from doctors who use Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal fatigue Program in their clinics.

A doctor I know here in New Zealand has been using Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Program successfully in his primary practice for the past two and a half years. His comments: “The more patients I see in primary care, the more I can see the connection with many of their presenting complaints and stress. In fact, if I placed half of my primary care patients on Dr. Wilson’s Program I could reduce my workload at least by half.” Another doctor I spoke with in the South Island of New Zealand mentioned that he used to treat depression as a “disease in its own right” but after studying Dr. Wilson’s work has seen that many cases of depression actually stem from adrenal exhaustion (and altered cortisol levels) in men women. His comments: “Many cases of depression I see in patients seems to be connected to their level of stress and tiredness, and once I got used to treating their fatigue and stress patterns, their depression lifted and in some cases disappeared.”

About the Author

dr eric bakkerEric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 25 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida yeast infections, as well as adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. Website:  You can complete his online survey to determine if you have a yeast infection here, or link through to his many You Tube videos:  Dr. Bakker’s Blog:

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