After the death of a spouse, it’s natural for the family and friends of the surviving partner to treat them somewhat delicately.
Widows and widowers are often seen as more emotionally fragile due to their circumstances, perhaps even more prone to depression or anxiety.
Yet new research has found just the opposite, that surviving spouses might have less susceptibility to emotional issues as a result of their loss.
Researchers tracked 2,000 patients aged 16 to 73 for their report, specifically testing for their individual tolerance to chronic pain and susceptibility to emotional conditions.
The subjects were each undergoing treatment at the medical College of Virginia pain center at the time of the research.
According to the report, widows and widowers felt less overall chronic pain compared with those who are married or single.
“Widows and widowers felt less chronic pain
compared with those married and single.”
The findings surprised the researchers, led by Dr. James Wade, a professor of psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.
They had expected still-married couples to report fewer issues such as depression or frustration, largely due to having a support system in place.
Additionally, the widows and widowers were found to have less overall fear of emotional trouble than both married and single individuals.
Wade wonders if the experience of losing a spouse somehow provides them with almost an “emotional inoculation” against future lifestyle threats.
“We think that loss may force us to develop coping strategies to bounce back from threats to your quality of life,” he said.
He said in the case of a widowed spouse, the loss differs significantly from that of a divorce or separation, mainly due to its uncontrollable nature.
Among the patients, researchers considered issues such as age, ethnicity and gender for their findings.
The report appeared in the journal Pain Research and Treatment.
Source: hindawi.com. Photo source: blogmagazine.org.