Stressful Social Situations=Illness

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Registered: 03-11-2004
Stressful Social Situations=Illness
Wed, 08-11-2010 - 1:09pm

Stressful Social Situations Could Make You Sick

Anxiety over things like public speaking can lead to asthma or heart disease

Jill Provost ON Aug 11, 2010 at 11:50AM

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How do you respond to awkward social situations? Do you get anxious in front of large crowds or break a sweat when mingling with strangers? Fretting over social situations could make you sick, according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

People who are sensitive to getting snubbed show increased inflammatory activity in the body, says the study from UCLA. Inflammation is the immune system's natural response to potentially harmful situations. However, chronic inflammation can increase the risk of many diseases, including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, cancer and depression.

Everyone experiences some social stress in life -- public speaking is one of the most common phobias -- but where some people will see it as a challenge, others consider it a real threat. Shy and socially anxious people may even feel afraid in everyday interactions, like making small talk with coworkers or riding the elevator with someone they don’t know. The more often people experience social stress, the more likely they are to have chronic inflammation, according to the study’s lead author George Slavich, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.

For the study, Slavich and his team recruited 124 people and subjected them to two uncomfortable social situations.

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