Married People Live Stress-free, Healthier Life

Do you want to live a happy stress-free life? Who doesn’t want? Here’s the good news! You don’t have to do meditation daily, do yoga or go vegan. All you have to do is to get married! A new study claims marriage can dramatically minimize stress and increase happiness.

Previously, several studies have demonstrated that married people are healthier than single, divorced or widowed individuals. Now the new study from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US provides the first biological evidence to explain how marriage impacts a person’s physical and mental well-being.

Researchers in the study found that married individuals have lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, than those who never married or were previously married and divorced or widowed.

Given the lower levels of cortisol hormone married people face less psychological stress than unmarried people, the study claims.

Prolonged stress is linked to higher levels of cortisol. The increased levels of this stress-inducing hormone can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate inflammation, which results in the development and progression of many illnesses.

“It is exciting to discover a physiological pathway that may explain how relationships influence health and disease,” said one of the researchers Brian Chin, a Ph.D. student in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Department of Psychology.

To reach their findings, researchers collected saliva samples from 572 healthy adults who were between the ages 21 and 55 years. The samples were collected over three non-consecutive days, with multiple samples taken daily and examined for cortisol levels.

The results showed that the participants who were married had lower levels of cortisol than the single or previously married people during the three-day test period. When each participant’s daily cortisol rhythm – the cortisol levels that peak when a person wakes up and decrease during the day – was compared, the researchers found that those individuals who were married showed a faster decline in cortisol rhythms, a pattern that has been known to decrease heart disease risk, and increase cancer survival.

The high cortisol levels, on the other hand, have been linked to mental conditions like anxiety and depression in addition to the progression of certain diseases and other issues.

“These data provide important insight into the way in which our intimate social relationships can get under the skin to influence our health,” said laboratory director Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University Professor of Psychology and co-author of the study.

The study was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology.