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Can your relationship status make a difference in your overall well-being?
To borrow a commonly used Facebook phrase, it's complicated.
"Being in an unhealthy relationship causes your body to release stress hormones and your heart to beat faster," says Troiani, adding that those factors can push blood pressure up over time.
The link between relationships and cardiovascular health goes well beyond blood pressure.
Research suggests that both men and women drink more in response to relationship problems—and excessive drinking, in turn, can add fuel to those problems.
A person's diet, exercise habits, and stress levels can all have an impact on blood pressure, so it's not surprising that your relationship status—and the strength of your relationship—can, too.
Surprise, surprise: Regular physical intimacy appears to reduce stress and boost well-being.
Sex isn't the only type of physical contact that can lower stress and improve health.In one small but highly cited study, women—regardless of their personal and family history of depression—were six times more likely to be clinically depressed if their husbands had been unfaithful or if their marriages were breaking apart.Our romantic partners have a noticeable impact on how much alcohol we consume, and how often.But Troiani has seen the opposite happen quite often, as well: "A happy couple can motivate each other to stay healthy—they'll go to the gym together, set goals, and feel responsible for each other." When couples do pack on the pounds, she adds, it may be a symptom of conflict, not slacking off."Dissatisfaction in the relationship can lead to passive-aggressive eating behaviors and sleep problems, which will lead to weight gain," she says.