This article is republished by the American Psychological Association.
Anger can be more damaging to the physical health of an elderly person than sad, according to a new study published by Concordia researchers. And if that anger increases inflammation, it could lead to chronic diseases like heart disease, arthritis and cancer.
"As many people get older, they simply cannot do the activities they once did. Or they may experience the loss of a spouse or a decline in their physical mobility and may get angry," says research doctorate candidate Meaghan Barlow, lead author of the study published in the journal of the American Psychological Association Psychology and aging.
"Our study showed that rabies can lead to the development of chronic diseases, while sadness cannot."
Barlow and his coauthors examine whether anger and sadness contributed to the inflammation, an immune response from the body to perceived threats like infection or tissue damage. While inflammation in general helps protect the body and helps heal, long-lasting inflammation can lead to chronic diseases in old age, according to the authors.
The researchers collected and analyzed data from 226 seniors aged 59 to 93 years from Montreal. They grouped the participants as old, from 59 to 79 years old, or in advanced old age, 80 years and more.
Over a week, participants completed short questionnaires about how angry or sad they felt. The authors also measured the inflammation from blood samples and asked the participants if they had chronic diseases related to the age.
"We found that experiencing anger every day was related to higher levels of inflammation and chronic disease for people aged 80 and over, but not for younger seniors," says study co-author Carsten Wrosch, a professor of psychology at the Faculty of Letters of Concordia. Science.
"Sadness, on the other hand, was not related to inflammation or chronic illness".