LivingSocial rejection harms health

Social rejection harms health

rechazo-socialArthritis, asthma, cardiovascular diseases and even depression can be triggered by the indifference that other people show towards us and social rejection. This is the conclusion reached by psychologist George Slavich and his colleagues at the University of California. After asking 124 volunteers to give speeches and perform mental and arithmetic exercises in front of an indifferent and hostile audience, they asked a quarter of them to participate in multiplayer computer video games, where the other participants were instructed to exclude them. The analyzes showed thatthe situation of social rejection increased the inflammatory activity of their organisms. If this inflammation becomes chronic, experts conclude, it can trigger rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and depression, among other health problems.

Furthermore, MRI scans of the participants’ brains showed that higher inflammatory levels were associated with aincreased brain activity in areas that respond to social stress, specifically the anterior dorsal cingulate cortex and the insula, linked to basic emotions such as hatred, fear, happiness and sadness. “This constitutes further evidence thatour body and mind are intimately connected? says Slavich, who publishes his research today in the journalPNAS.

As an explanation for the excessive inflammatory response of the body after exposure to social rejection, Slavich suggests that it is because the human body automatically prepares itself for a subsequent physical attack. Cytokines that regulate the immune system and produce inflammation are released to reduce the risk of infection in case of aggression.

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