Any relationship can take a toll on your well-being, especially a bad one. Whether you feel trapped, hopeless, or defeated, a poor relationship can lead to a handful of serious health issues. And just as you’d tend to a physical ailment, so too should you tend to emotional strife. Here’s how your bad relationship is killing you.
1. Broken heart syndrome
Whether the result of a breakup, divorce, or losing a loved one, heartbreak is truly devastating. But can a person literally die of a broken heart? It turns out, broken heart syndrome is real, and in very rare cases, can be fatal. According to the American Heart Association, broken heart syndrome occurs when a part of the heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well. The rest of the heart, however, continues to function normally.
Also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy, the condition can occur even in people who are otherwise healthy, often affecting more women than men. People with broken heart syndrome often experience intense chest pain caused by an emotionally stressful event. As opposed to a heart attack, broken heart syndrome doesn’t show any signs of blocked arteries, and most people make a full recovery in just weeks.
2. Excessive drinking
Everyone’s responsible for their own well-being, especially when it comes to alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, though, a person’s bad habits can rub off on their significant other. In one study, couples were evaluated during the first four years of marriage. The findings suggested a person may be influenced by how much their spouse drank. If one person drinks heavily, it’s likely their partner will, too.
While the aforementioned case doesn’t necessarily restrict itself to bad relationships (maybe both partners are happy and one just drank more than the other when they first married), the next example does. A small study, which examined 69 couples over a three-week period, reads, “women were found to drink more than men in response to relationship difficulties and feeling disconnected from their partner (i.e., low intimacy).” While the researchers focused on the presence of alcohol consumption rather than amount, it’s worth noting binge drinking can wreak havoc on your liver and may eventually lead to death.
3. A lack of overall well-being
Does a person’s sex life have much to do with their overall well-being? Probably. According to a study of 2,810 Swedes, an individual’s degree of satisfaction with sex life, life in general, partnership, and mental health were all positively associated with frequent sexual intercourse. While abstinence alone won’t kill you, people in a bad relationship who aren’t getting busy often certainly aren’t reaping any of the physical benefits. Plus, regular sex can help lower blood pressure and protect a person’s heart, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
4. Added stress
With every relationship comes some sort of conflict from a surprising number of sources. In one study, married couples reported a slew of topics that contributed to marital conflict, including children, chores, communication, leisure, and money. This can lead to stress that can severely affect your life when it goes on for too long. For example, some research shows a link between stressful social relations and an increased mortality risk. The study, which included 9,875 middle-aged men and women, found frequent worries or demands from a person’s partner or children were associated with a 50% to 100% increased risk of death.
If someone is suffering through a miserable partnership, they might be putting themselves at risk for mental health problems, such as clinical depression. While a person with depression can be treated by a mental health professional, its possible they’ll experience thoughts of death or suicide before they really know what’s going on.
Of course, depression manifests itself differently in each person, and someone who’s in a bad relationship may be at risk for major depressive episodes, or MDE. According to one very small study, women who’d experienced humiliating marital events, including unfaithful husbands and threats of dissolution, were six times more likely to be diagnosed with MDE than women who hadn’t gone through such relationship struggles.
Sticking around in a bad relationship to see what happens just isn’t worth it, at least if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Consider your physical and emotional well-being before dusting serious relationship issues under the rug. Your life could depend on it.