Dealing with insecurity and loneliness can take a tremendous toll on a person's emotional well-being, but a recent study indicates there are physical implications as well.
The study out of Concordia University showed that those who tend to fear rejection or abandonment in close relationships showed the greatest increase in C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker for systemic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other aging-related disorders, Jean-Philippe Gouin, an associate professor of psychology at Concordia and co-author of the study, told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday.
"Over the long run, these people are at greater risk for developing cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, or even stroke. We know from epidemiological studies, people who are lonely tend to die earlier."
The study recruited 58 newly-arrived international students at a university in Montreal. They were asked to complete a questionnaire within the first three weeks of their arrival to determine their attachment style and give a blood sample to monitor CRP levels. Samples were taken again after two months and five months after their arrival in Canada.
"The early acculturation period that migrants experience when they move to a new country provides a unique context to examine the link between personal attachment style and health outcomes," said Gouin.
Attachment style is defined as how you internalize and perceive your relationships with others as well as your own worthiness in relation to others. Someone with attachment anxiety is more likely to perceive their relationships with others negatively, have a greater fear of abandonment by those close to them, and have trouble integrating.
Gouin said the study can help predict systemic inflammation by using attachment anxiety as an indicator, as well as formulate methods for addressing the issue, such as finding the key intervention period to best support those with attachment anxiety.
"For the world’s increasing number of refugees and displaced people, we can look at how and when to combat isolation and step in with more support," said Gouin.
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