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Believe it or not, loving relationships are powerful determinants of not only our mental health but also our physical well being. While relationship developments are predominantly considered to be in the domain of social science specialities, lately these topics are being discussed more often by physicians and medical researchers. For the past three decades physician-scientists like Dr. Dean Ornish have been researching the clinical relevance of these strategies on chronic disease prevention and reversal.[1,2]


The outcomes are compelling. A patient who does not perceive the love and support of their spouse is more likely to suffer from heart disease, stomach ulcers in addition to a number of  psychiatric conditions including anxiety and depression. Lack of social relationship with friends and family can as much as double or triple the risk of heart diseases, strokes, cancer, arthritis and lung disease in about a decade. [3]


The stress of frayed relationships and the day to day mental stresses add to the body’s stress and increases the chances of developing elevated blood pressures and diabetes. But even when these risk factors are carefully selected to be equal between the case and control groups, there are notable differences on the outcomes based on the strength of these interpersonal relationship.[3]



[1] Ornish, D. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease.JAMA. 1998 Dec 16;280(23):2001-7.

[2] Ornish, D. Love & Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health. HarperCollins Publ., 2011

[3] House, JS. The association of social relationships and activities with mortality: prospective evidence from the Tecumseh Community Health Study.Am J Epidemiol. 1982 Jul;116(1):123-40.

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