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Family Problems Could Make You Vulnerable To Sickness

Medical Daily logo Medical Daily 8/11/2019 Darwin Malicdem

Family plays an important role in a person’s growth and development. The parents' food choices, the time you sleep at home and how you enjoy or ignore exercise together may affect each other’s overall health. 

But you should also value the quality of your relationship with your family. Researchers found that the people who think they are supported or appreciated by their mom, dad, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other members of the family have a higher risk of chronic illness.

The findings come from the analysis of data from nearly 3,000 people between 1995 and 2014. Researchers looked into the participants’ quality of interactions with family and partner and their chronic conditions, including stroke and headaches. 

The participants answered questions about how often they argue with their partner, who appreciates them, how often their family criticize them and how much can they rely on family members. Researchers were surprised by the difference of the impact of problems with spouses and the family. 

The findings, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, suggest that strained extended family relations contributed to the participants’ chronic conditions and poor health. However, those who experienced only troubled relationships with spouses did not report health problems. 

The reason why problems with partner did not lead to chronic illness is that the participants had an option to leave marriage because of divorce. But they are not able to avoid their families for the rest of their lives, leading to long-term stress, CNN reported Thursday

"Adults are waiting longer to marry, if they marry at all," Sarah Woods, lead study author and an assistant professor of family and community medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, said. "And they may be less likely to be married to that same person for the rest of their lifespan. But you have your family for all of your life."

She added that family relationships can be long and emotionally intense. The long-term stress because of parents, siblings and other relatives “would over time wear and tear on your body."

"It's our takeaway that if your family or relationship are conflictual or unhealthy in adulthood, it could be very important to work to improve them, perhaps by therapy," Woods said. "Until now that's not something we would typically consider for somebody in the middle of their life."

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