Social Rejection Could Affect Body's Immune System, Study Suggests

The Toll Social Rejection Takes On The Body

We all know that rejection seriously hurts -- and now a new study shows how it could actually be bad for our health.

Scientists from the University of British Columbia, Brandeis University and the University of California, Los Angeles have found that social stressors could affect our immune systems.

"Targeted rejection is central to some of life's most distressing experiences -- things like getting broken up with, getting fired, and being excluded from your peer group at school," study researcher Michael Murphy said in a statement. "In this study, we aimed to examine processes that may give these experiences the ability to affect health."

The study, published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, included 147 teen girls, all of whom hadn't been diagnosed with a mental condition in the past, but who were at risk for depression due to others factors.

Researchers followed them for two-and-a-half years, and analyzed them every six months to examine their psychiatric states, inflammation and instances of rejection, as well as how they perceived their own social standings to be.

The study authors found an association between instances of rejection and the beginning processes of inflammation. People who said that their social standings were higher experienced this association to the greatest extent, they found.

"These findings demonstrate that social rejection upregulates inflammatory gene expression in youth at risk for depression, particularly for those high in status," researchers wrote in the study. "If sustained, this heightened inflammatory signaling could have implications for life-span health."

A previous study from UCLA researchers showed a similar association between feelings of rejection and inflammatory response, WebMD reported. That research showed that people who were made to feel rejected in a lab test had increased levels of a marker for inflammation.

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