Can Talking Lead to Lower Inflammation and a Healthier Heart?

Our mind and body are linked through a variety of channels, and our stress response is a critical one
June 29, 2020 Updated: June 29, 2020

Gabbers, listen up: You might be able to talk your way to a healthier heart and life.

A new study has just found that cognitive behavioral therapy, like talk therapy, can improve inflammatory markers that contribute to a host of health conditions.

Commonly used to treat mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and stress, behavioral/talk therapy may also have big benefits for fighting inflammation. A new review suggests therapy can boost immunity and ultimately improve physical health.

Using psychotherapy to treat physical health disorders may work indirectly. Studies have shown that reducing stress and anxiety can lead to less taxation on the immune system and fewer negative emotions.

The mental results of effective therapy reduce stress and lower levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which put pressure on your heart and body. This added pressure, when long-lasting, can contribute to the inflammation that is associated with conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

Stress relief through psychotherapy can also lead to better sleep, a calmer mind, more activity, and improved eating habits. Each of these factors is known to contribute to a healthier immune system and reduced risk for several illnesses.

The review found that patients undergoing some form of psychotherapy experienced almost 15 percent better immune system function and an 18 percent decrease in harmful immune system overactivity. These benefits also lasted for six months following therapy.

Therapy’s impact on the immune system appears to control the production of cytokines. Cytokines are molecules sent out by your immune system to fix a problem. They can become damaging, however, if they are always on the scene.

A constantly engaged immune system leads to chronic inflammation, which causes tissue damage and is a known contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more.

If talking about your feelings or chatting with a therapist has been on your mind, this could be some added incentive to do so. Many are practicing online and could help you ease stress as well as improve immune function.

You also might be able to combat stress and improve immune function by talking with friends and family. There is evidence to suggest that strong social connections are an important component of anti-aging, which indicates a role in limiting inflammation.

Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealthwhich first published this article.