New research out of The North American Menopause Society, looked at health data from 304 women, including ultrasound imaging identifying any build up in their arteries. The participants were also asked questions about how they acted in their intimate relationships, e.g. how much they resonated with statements like, “caring means putting the other person’s needs in front of my own,” and, “I rarely express anger to those close to me.”
They found that those who ‘self-silenced’ – or inhibited their own self-expression to avoid conflict – were more likely to experience cardiovascular complications. For example, the build-up of plaque in their carotids (or the main arteries carrying blood to the head,) which can lead to stroke and other serious heart conditions.
"Whether you are experiencing anger, sadness, grief, or frustration, pushing those feelings aside actually leads to physical stress on your body," she said. "Holding in feelings has a correlation to high cortisol—the hormone released in response to stress—and that cortisol leads to lower immunity and toxic thinking patterns.”
When left untreated in the long run, stress can increase the risk of diabetes, memory issues, aggression, anxiety and depression.
“In other words, deciding to bury your feelings, ignore them, internalise them, pretend they didn't happen or convince yourself that there is no need to deal with them can literally make you sick from the stress.”