A recent study has revealed how grief can be catastrophic as it makes people more vulnerable to deadly diseases.
We have heard tragic stories about aged couples who pass away almost immediately after one another – and it seems there’s a scientific reason why this happens.
A new study published in the journal psychoneuroendocrinologym has confirmed that grief can be fatal, as it is possible to die of a broken heart.
People who strive to move forward with life after the death of a loved one are more at risk of joining them earlier than expected – and it’s all to do with inflammation.
Researchers, from Rice University in the US, conducted interviews and tested the blood of 99 people whose spouses had not long ago died.
They compared people who showed symptoms of ‘elevated grief’ – like pining for the departed, trouble moving on, a sense that life is incomprehensible and inability to accept the reality of the loss – to those who did not show the above-mentioned behaviours.
Widows and widowers with these symptoms suffered up to 17 percent higher levels of bodily inflammation – an essential component of the immune system and contributing factor to potentially deadly cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.
Lead investigator Chris Fagundes said: “previous studies have established that inflammation contributes to virtually every disease in older adulthood
“We also know that depression is linked to more advanced levels of inflammation, and those who lose a companion are at substantially higher risk of major depression, congestive heart failure, stroke and premature mortality.
“However, this is the first study to confirm that grief – regardless of people’s levels of depressive symptoms – can promote inflammation, which in turn can cause negative health outcomes.”
Losing a loved one is very tough and it’s not something you can expect to ‘get past’ instantly – no matter what stage in life it happens to you – and there’s no ‘right’ way to cope with it.
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If you are struggling with bereavement and finding life difficult, make an appointment with your physician who can give you advice or may refer you to a counsellor.