Study: ‘Toxic Friendships’ Can Lead To Serious Health Problems

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It can happen to anyone, sometimes a friendship goes bad.

It can be unpleasant, and researchers claim there is a physical toll that comes from being with toxic friends.

Friendships are supposed to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it turns out, instead of making you feel good some friends can literally make you sick.

“Between the headaches and you’re just feeling like, you just feel bad all over,” one woman said.

As CBS2’s Kristine Johnson explained, science now backs that statement up. A study by researchers at UCLA found that stressful friendships lead to significantly high levels of a protein that causes inflammation in the body. Over time that can cause serious health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

“This study is suggesting that there’s more to it than just a psychological impact, that it may be related to health outcomes and diseases that are very common and very severe,” Dr. Daniel Yadager explained.

Dr. Yadager said in addition to eating well and exercising, good relationships can be as important.

“This is also part of leading a healthy lifestyle, is to make sure you’re around people who are nurturing and supportive,” Dr. Yadager said.

Dr. Jan Yager who has written about bad friendships said many people don’t make the connection between illness and bad friendships.

“We like to think that friendship is something that everyone can handle. It’s so much harder to say, ‘my friend is making me ill,” Dr. Yager said.

Another problem is that breaking up a toxic friendship can be even harder than leaving a romantic relationship.

“The roots can go a lot deeper. You can’t replace a friendship that goes back to when you’re 5-years-old,” Dr. Yager said.

Ending a friendship itself can be stressful, but there are ways to make it easier. Start by backing off from the friend, be direct about why the relationship doesn’t work, and try to part on good terms.

Dr. Yager said it’s not easy, but worth it in the end.

Experts said when breaking up a friendship it’s helpful to explain that it’s not the other person’s fault, it’s the way you interact.

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