Futurity

How does grief affect your immune system?

Grief really does have an impact on your health and immune system, a new review finds.
hooded man looking down

A new review digs into existing research on the connection between grief and the immune system.

Losing a loved one is one of the most stressful life experiences a person will endure, and its toll can be physical as well as emotional. Science has shown, for example, that widows and widowers have a 41 percent higher risk of early death, compared to their still-married peers.

The relationship between grief and the immune system may explain bereavement’s association with increased risk for disease and early mortality, at least in part. Since researchers began studying it in 1977, evidence has shown that people may experience negative changes in their immune function following the loss of a loved one.

In a new research review article in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, Lindsey Knowles, a psychology doctoral student at University of Arizona, and associate professors of psychology Mary-Frances O’Connor and John Ruiz examined 41 years of existing research on bereavement and the immune system. They focused specifically on 13 studies deemed to be of high scientific quality.

Here, Knowles and O’Connor discuss their findings and possible directions for future research.

The post How does grief affect your immune system? appeared first on Futurity.

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