mature married couple relaxing on the couch

Lowered stress hormones in married people

Getting married is a big step for anyone. Not only does it promise love and companionship but also economic and health benefits.

Previous studies have suggested that married people enjoy better health than those who are single, divorced or widowed.

A new study from Carnegie Mellon University now shows us how marriage impacts health.

So far research has focussed on how psychological stress is experienced by married versus unmarried people and how that may impact health.

Married adults showed a faster drop in cortisol level – a pattern that has been linked with lowered risk of heart disease, and longer survival among cancer patients.

This study examined the link between current marital status and two important indicators – increased cortisol production and disruption of cortisol’s daily rhythm. It also tested if marriage acts as a buffer against perceived stress caused by marital interaction, and what effect it has on cortisol production.

This was tested in a community sample of 572 healthy men and women between the ages of 21-55. Participants provided saliva samples over three non-consecutive days. Samples were taken during waking hours for each 24 hour period and tested for diurnal cortisol levels and slopes.

The results showed that the cortisol levels in married people were lower than in unmarried or previously married people across the three days. The cortisol levels dropped rapidly in married individuals compared to those who were never married, but not for those who were previously married.

Typically cortisol levels are peaked when a person wakes up and then it drops through the day. This pattern was faster in married people. Long periods of stress leads to an increase in production of cortisol which contributes to inflammation and ultimately to ill-health and the development of other diseases.

The study also showed an interaction between perceived stress and marital status – higher stress was linked to higher cortisol for previously married people but not for never married or married individuals.

This study explains the pathways which link marital status to health and supports the belief that unmarried people face more psychological stress.

So there you go – being married makes you less stressful and that is definitely good for your health and wellbeing.

Source: Psychoneuroendocrinology

Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

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