(HealthDay News) – People with high levels of attachment anxiety, who are excessively concerned about being rejected, have high cortisol levels and suppressed cellular immunity, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in Psychological Science.

Lisa M. Jaremka, PhD, from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, and colleagues surveyed 85 healthy married couples about relationships, anxiety, and sleep quality. Saliva and blood samples were analyzed.

The researchers found that those with higher attachment anxiety had higher cortisol levels and fewer numbers of four T cell subsets (CD3+ T cells, CD45+ T cells, CD3+CD4+ helper T cells, and CD3+CD8+ cytotoxic T cells). Higher cortisol levels correlated with fewer numbers of all four subsets of T cells. Cortisol is known to suppress the cellular immune response, the authors note.

“The current study demonstrates that attachment anxiety has physiological costs and provides a glimpse into the pathways through which social relationships can affect health and well-being,” Jaremka and colleagues conclude.

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