Self-silencing may lead to increased risk of stroke
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Expressing your true feelings is not only good for your mental health, but it could also be important for your physical health. A new study associates self-silencing (inhibiting one’s self-expression) with greater carotid plaque buildup which could lead to a stroke and other cardiovascular problems. Study results were presented during The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Individuals engage in a range of behaviors to maintain close relationships, some of which may be costly to their own health. One such behavior is self-silencing, which is sometimes used to avoid conflict or relationship loss either at work or at home. Although self-silencing has been linked to worse mental health in women, it has not been previously examined in relation to women’s cardiovascular health.
In this new study of 304 perimenopausal and postmenopausal nonsmoking women, researchers tested whether self-silencing was associated with carotid atherosclerosis. They found that greater self-silencing was related to increased odds of plaque independent of socio-demographics, CVD risk factors, and depression. The results were based on women’s self-reporting on a range of factors such as how often they expressed anger or put someone else’s needs before their own. Ultrasound imaging was used to quantify carotid plaque.
What the researchers say: “Given increased public health interest in women’s experiences in intimate relationships, our results suggest that women’s socio-emotional expression may be relevant to their cardiovascular health,” said the lead author of the study.
“Studies like this one are valuable as they highlight the importance of understanding how a woman’s emotional disposition can affect her physical health,” she added. “These results should encourage healthcare providers to take into consideration socio-emotional factors when outlining a preventive care plan for their patients.”
So, what? I suspect that this effect is not limited to women’s health but that the same sort of thing happens in men. There have been some studies that have shown that in the males of our species self-silencing is one of the causes of alcoholism, drug addiction and early death.
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