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The wounds of people under stress heal slower than those who are less anxious, according to research.
Small “punch” wounds were inflicted on healthy volunteers whose levels of life stress were assessed using a questionnaire. The wounds of the least anxious participants were found to heal at twice the speed of the most stressed.
Levels of the stress hormone cortisol reflected the differences in healing speed experienced by the participants. Pooled data from 22 studies by different research looking at stress and wound healing revealed a similar pattern.
The findings were presented at the Cheltenham Science Festival by Professor John Weinman from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. Previously, he showed that wound healing can be enhanced by psychological help aimed at addressing emotional stress.
Prof Weinman said: “These studies focus specifically on how the life stresses people experience can impact on their ability to recover from different types of wound, such as those caused by surgical procedures and by different medical conditions, including venous leg ulcers.
“I hope that these findings can now be used to identify psychological interventions to help speed up the recovery and healing process.”
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King’s College London