Bereavement Increases Mortality Risk By Influencing The Immune System Negatively

Losing your spouse is, undeniably, one of the worst things that can happen to a person. The loss of a partner makes some people feel angered and sad while others simply go numb. Research shows that bereavement influences health severely negatively. It has physical as well as psychological and neurological impacts.

Internal medicine physician, D. Keith Cobb MD, has given several ways in his book explaining how grief that comes from bereavement effects health. He says it causes abdominal pain in the upper abdomen and lower chest, causes eating disturbances, it can cause chronic fatigue and chronic insomnia as well as functional impairment due to the stress and anxiety which stem from the loss of a loved one.

Bereavement also exacerbates medical concerns and increases one’s sensitivity to pains and aches. In fact, studies also show that bereavement has a substantial impact on increasing death risk. A previous study found that the mortality risk of a person increases twofold within the first week of the death of his or her spouse.

Now a new research looks at why one’s mortality risk increases with bereavement by assessing various old studies so as to compile them all in one place for further researches. Researchers have viewed evidence that bereavement negatively influences immunity.

What Is This New Research About?

A literature review by researchers from the University of Arizona, Tucson looks into the link between bereavement and the bumped-up risk of mortality. Particularly, the authors involved assessed how the loss of a loved one and the ache of losing can adversely impact the immunity of a person which, in turn, can increase the risk of death.

This new study has been published in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal. The scientists carried out a systematic review of all published works in this regard starting from 1977. 33 of these studies were found to be up to the standards set to be considered for assessment. Of these, 13, which were of the best quality, were studied.

This literature review was created so that future researches could be conducted looking at it as a reference point. For this purpose, the findings from all the studies considered were recorded in this paper. The analysis showed that previous studies had found that people who are bereaved have higher inflammation markers, immune cell gene expression that is faulty, and decreased antibody responses to immune attacks.

The researchers of this study also came to the conclusion that the psychological impact that bereavement has is linked to how it impacts one’s immunity. Past researches have looked at bereavement’s impact on immune health in many ways. However, there are still many gaps which need to be filled with new research.

Key Takeaway

Losing a spouse can be hard on the health of a person so much so that it ups mortality risk. A new literature review has been compiled regarding this. It studies the link between bereavement and immunity by looking at past research works. The research concludes a number of factors that impact immunity and up death risk following bereavement which include weakened immunity, depression, and inflammation.