Coping Mechanisms For Stress And Disease

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Personality and temperament play a role in modulating the stress response and help explain why individuals with certain personality traits are more prone to acquiring stress-related diseases. Individuals with the Type A personality are described as competitive, impatient, and exhibit time urgency and intense achievement drive. Numerous studies have confirmed that this personality type is an independent risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease and have increased related morbidity and mortality.56

More recentstudies indicate that hostility is more predictive than the Type A personality profile for acquiring stress-related disease. Researchers have demonstrated a 35% increase risk of cardiovascular events in women with higher scores on hostility inventories when adjusting for other risk factors.57 Increased mortality in younger individuals with diagnosed coronary artery disease isalso associated with hostility.58 Studies indicate that hostile individualsexhibit increased levels of total serum cholesterol, homocysteine, and inflammatory markers such as CRP.59-61

Inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-8, and TNF-alpha, are also elevated in hostile and depressed individuals.62 Additionally, suppressed anger is associated with increased carotid artery intima-media thickness and stiffness.63 Socioeconomic and psychosocial stressors are also associated with decreased post-stress recovery of systolic blood pressure to baseline.64 Studies have also shown that individuals with metabolic syndrome and high levels of hostility demonstrate a fourfold increase in the risk of having a myocardial infarction.65 Hostility, anger, and depression are correlated with increased insulin resistance and elevated fasting insulin and glucose in women.66 Researches also propose a correlation between perceived loss of control over one's environment as a risk factor for increased hypertension and cardiovascular disease.67

Other stress-related diseases are also correlated with personality. A study was performed with individuals with chronic constipation with and without IBS. This study demonstrated a significant correlation with chronic constipation in all groups with increased hostility.68 Additionally, studies with inflammatory bowel disease show a decrease in relapse and surgical interventions in those individuals with more mature psychological defense mechanisms.69

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