Stress and anxiety can make it harder for wounds to heal, scientists have shown. Researchers inflicted small "punch" wounds on healthy volunteers whose levels of life stress were gauged using a standard questionnaire.
The wounds of the least anxious participants were found to heal twice as fast as those of the most stressed. Changes in levels of the stress hormone cortisol reflected the differences in healing speed. A similar pattern emerged from an analysis of pooled data from 22 studies by different research groups examining stress and wound healing.
Professor John Weinman, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, presented the findings at the Cheltenham Science Festival. Previously, he had shown that healing can be enhanced by psychological help aimed at easing emotional stress.