Is Worrying About Your Love Life Making You Sick?

Everyone has ups and downs, but if relationship stress leaves you "love sick" things can quickly turn toxic.

Medically reviewed in February 2021

Updated on March 1, 2021

Can a relationship make you physically sick? It turns out that worrying about the state of your love life can cause your stress level to go through the roof and even weaken your immune system.  

Researchers at Ohio State University asked 85 married couples questions about their relationship, then tested their levels of a key stress-related hormone and certain immune cells. The study was published in the January 10, 2013 edition of the journal Psychological Science. 

People who worried the most about the future of their relationship produced 11 percent more cortisol, the “fight or flight” stress hormone that, in the long term, has been linked to heart disease, depression and other health problems. They also had 22 percent fewer T-cells, which are a key part of the body’s system to fight off infection. 

These participants’ concerns went beyond normal relationship ups and downs, however. They experienced what’s called “attachment anxiety,” meaning that they worried excessively about being rejected and were more likely to see even a seemingly innocent event in their relationship as negative. 

If you feel chronically insecure in your relationship, working through your concerns with a psychologist or couple’s counselor is a smart idea. The following tips can also help relieve relationship stress and lower your cortisol level: 

  • Catch your breath. Try five-finger breathing to calm anxiety. 
  • Sweat worries away. Add some regular, moderate exercise to your routine. 
  • Get enough ZZZs. Taking little steps can help you achieve better sleep. 
  • “Buzz” off. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. 

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