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Being Unhappy or Stressed Does Not Cause Ill Health, Mortality


Being Unhappy or Stressed Does Not Cause Ill Health, MortalityPeople have long thought that being unhappy could be bad for your health – especially your heart – but a new decade-long study has revealed that previous research may have confused cause and effect.

The study, which was led by Dr. Bette Liu of the University of South Wales in Australia and published in The Lancet, found that unhappiness is not a direct cause of ill health and increased mortality.

Known as the UK’s Million Women Study, the research team analysed 719, 671 women who had a median age of 59 to discover whether happiness detrimental changes in stress hormones or the immune system resulted in a higher risk of death.

One of the research team’s conclusions was that previous studies had failed to deal with reverse causality, in other words, that people who are ill tend to not be happy.

For the research, female participants were asked to regularly rate their health, stress levels and happiness. The bottom line was that whether people were “never”, “usually” or “mostly” happy had no bearing on their odds of dying during the course of the study.

Dr Liu said: "Illness makes you unhappy, but unhappiness itself doesn't make you ill.

"We found no direct effect of unhappiness or stress on mortality, even in a 10-year study of a million women."

The research did find, however, that light smokers were twice as likely to die during the study period and regular smokers three times. Reinforcing the reality that smoking is seriously bad for your health. Unhappiness, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily seem to be.