health

What are the health benefits of friendship? – Medical News Today

For most people, friendships form an important part of life. Sharing experiences is part of being human. And many studies have shown that loneliness has a negative effect on our well-being. Friendship has a positive impact on mental health, but can it also have physical benefits? Healthcare News Today looks at the evidence and speaks to experts in order to find out why friendships are good for our health and wellness.

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We know friendships are important, yet how exactly do they benefit our health? Image credit: María Soledad Kubat/Stocksy.

We do not have to be social all the time — sometimes we need in order to enjoy our own space — but all people need social interactions.

That is why individuals make friends and work at maintaining those friendships. And quality friendships will benefit all those involved.

Human beings are a social species. From the earliest times, individuals have needed to cooperate in order to survive, and we still do. We are not really alone in this — most animals have social interactions and rely on cooperation.

Although animal relationships have been derided as anthropomorphism , research has now demonstrated that some animals do form long-term, stable relationships just like human friendships.

Of course , not all creatures have such friendships — as far as we know, these are usually restricted to those that live in stable interpersonal groups , such as higher primates, elephants and cetaceans , such as whales plus dolphins.

The basis of friendship is to value one another — each individual offers something that is valuable to another individual.

As humans, all of us value others for all sorts of reasons. They might such as the same things we all do, they might have similar political views, or perhaps lend help with work or chores.

Once we decide that we value someone, more often than not we will work at keeping that companionship.

Speaking with Medical News Nowadays , Dr. Scott Kaiser , a geriatrician and director of Geriatric Cognitive Health with regard to the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, had this to say about friendship’s role in the evolution of humanity:

“Research suggests that will evolution offers continually selected for increasing social connection with social interaction plus networks playing a major role within the survival of people. According to this particular framework, the ancestors formed social connections — working together, sharing food, and otherwise helping each other—to feel safe and protected. ”

“Humans are hardwired to connect and sociable connections are an essential a part of good health and well-being — all of us need them to survive plus thrive, just like we need food, water and oxygen, ” said Dr . Kaiser.

As children, most of us find that it is easy in order to socialize , but adults can find it more challenging. The good news is that the benefits associated with childhood relationships stay with us well into adulthood.

In one study , boys were followed up at the age of 32. Those who reported having had lots of friends in childhood had lower blood pressure and were more likely to be a healthy weight than those who were less sociable.

And it is not just close friendships that are good for us. People of all ages benefit from any type of sociable interaction. A 2017 study into “SuperAgers” — individuals in their 80s who have the particular memory skills of those several decades younger — found that they experienced far greater levels of positive social associations than all those with cognitive abilities expected for their age.

Based on a 2014 study , “loneliness is caused not by being alone, but by being without several definite needed relationship or set associated with relationships. ”

The study went on in order to suggest that loneliness can lead to many psychiatric disorders, this kind of as depression , personality disorders , alcohol use and sleep disorders, and may even contribute to bodily health problems.

So does socializing assist protect against psychological health disorders? Almost certainly, as Lee Chambers , psychologist and founder of Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing, told MNT .

“Having buddies, ” he noted, “has the potential in order to protect all of us from the impact of loneliness, and having effective friendships can buffer us from the adverse effects associated with loneliness. ”

But what will be an effective a friendly relationship? According to one study , high-quality friendships are more likely to be characterized by support, reciprocity, plus intimacy.

Effective relationships provide a strong sense of companionship, mitigate feelings associated with loneliness, and contribute to both life satisfaction and self-esteem.

And there is a positive feedback loop between interpersonal relationships plus self-esteem — each reinforces the other. So friendships boost self-pride , which is a protective factor regarding both actual physical and mental health.

Lack of social interaction affects not only our psychological health. Studies have shown that will a low quantity or even quality of social ties is linked to many medical conditions, such because cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cancer and impaired immune function.

“Social isolation and isolation have negative health impacts on par with obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and are associated with about the 50% increased risk associated with dementia. Simply taking a moment [to] connect with someone — even through a brief phone call — can reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depressive disorders and deliver brain-protecting advantages. ”

– Doctor Scott Kaiser

A 2010 meta-analysis associated with 148 studies — looking at the data of 308, 849 people in total — found that participants with stronger social human relationships had a 50% higher chance of success over an average of 7. 5 years than those without.

This research concluded that “[s]ocial relationship–based interventions represent a major opportunity to enhance not just the quality of existence but also survival. ”

Chambers agreed:

“Studies possess shown that will strong friendships can lessen risk factors for poorer long-term wellness, including waist circumference, stress, and inflammation levels. Emotional support plays a big factor in this, with having somebody to listen, validate feelings and be a positive distraction an important structure in modern life, alongside the particular encouragement plus support to adopt healthier behaviors and improve health outcomes. ”

That support and encouragement can benefit even individuals who like to exercise. The 2017 study in medical students discovered that these who undertook a weekly group exercise class got significantly lower stress amounts than patients who did the same amount of exercise alone.

Therefore all the evidence suggests that socialization benefits each our mental and actual health. Yet why? The particular key could be oxytocin.

Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter, produced in the hypothalamus. It is usually involved in childbirth and lactation, but is definitely also related to empathy, generosity and trust, all of which are usually key aspects in relationships.

One research found that oxytocin was vital for interpersonal recognition inside rodents, and this effect was also seen in people. Another , where researchers administered oxytocin in order to people via a nasal spray, found that this increased trust and made them a lot more willing to accept social risks.

But why does oxytocin have physical benefits? These are likely to be due to its effect on cortisol — the stress hormone. Participants in a study who received oxytocin intranasally had lower levels of cortisol than those who received a placebo when subjected to the stress of public speaking.

The adrenal glands release cortisol when a person is under tension. This is good for emergency situations as it prepares us for action, but bad when it occurs long-term. Among other things, long-term high cortisol can cause high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and fatigue .

So keeping cortisol levels down is a good idea. That will be where socialization comes in. When we are relaxed during positive social interactions , our bodies release oxytocin, so cortisol levels drop, and perhaps with them, also our blood pressure.

“Connection matters, but it’s not just about sheer numbers — amassing the most possible friends on your favorite social media platform or in the particular real world — but about the quality of those connections plus enjoying the invaluable benefits of meaningful, supportive relationships. ”

– Dr. Scott Kaiser

We all enjoy time to ourselves, and some friendships can have the negative influence on our health and well-being, but there is plenty of evidence that supportive associations do all of us good.

So even the loners among us should recognize that getting out and connecting with people can make us happier and healthier, and it might even make us live longer.

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