Ambivalent Relationships Can Raise Blood Pressure

Published Online: Wednesday, October 1, 2003

    Relationships with people for whom individuals have mixed feelings can do more harm than good. Results of a study published recently in Health Psychology showed that feelings of uncertainty with people can drive up an individual?s blood pressure.

    For the study, the researchers had 102 healthy people wear concealed blood pressure monitors for 3 days. The subjects pressed a button about 5 minutes into every social interaction to record their blood pressure. Also, they kept diaries about their daily interactions with people and answered questions about their relationships. At the end of the study, the researchers found that having mixed feelings raised blood pressure more than having feelings of outright hostility.

    The study produced another interesting finding as well. It showed that there are benefits to having close family relationships, even if family members upset each other sometimes. The researchers said that even when people have negative feelings toward family members their blood pressures do not rise as much as when they have negative interactions with other people. This finding corroborates the theory that people with strong familial bonds live longer and have a better quality of life.

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