Insecurity and Anxiety in Relationships could Lead to Heart Disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Insecurity and anxiety about relationships with others, known as anxious attachment, could lead to heart disease say researchers. Scientists have studied the effects of healthy and unhealthy relationship dynamics, finding that people who felt insecure and anxious or shun getting close to others are at risk for a variety of health problems, including heart disease.

Lachlan A. McWilliams, PhD, of Acadia University looked at data from 5,645 adults age 18 to 60 who took part in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, finding that insecure relationship dynamics leads to several health problems that surprisingly included cardiovascular disease. Anxious attachment was associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.


Much of the health research regarding attachment has focused on pain conditions, so we were initially surprised that some of our strongest findings involved conditions related to the cardiovascular system," said McWilliams. The scientists looked at three specific types of relationship attachments to find the link between insecurity or anxious attachment - feeling needy, insecure, anxious or mistrusting about relationships with others - and heart disease.

Study participants answered a questionnaire about whether a doctor had diagnosed them with seasonal allergies, stroke, heart attack and other health problems, including psychological disorders. They were also questioned about chronic pain. The findings showed that unhappiness and anxiety about relationships can foster heart disease.

After adjusting for other variable the scientists found the link between feeling insecure or anxious in a relationship, chronic pain, and heart disease. The authors say interventions that can help people who are clingy, needy, and distrustful or have difficulty getting close to others could lead to better health outcomes. The findings show that feeling insecure in a relationship, known as anxious attachment, can lead to a variety of health problems including heart disease.