Latest News » Your stress can make the people around you stressed

If you're feeling stressed, you may be making other people around you stressed too.

As if stress didn't wreak enough havoc on your life and brain health, a new study has found that your stress can actually "rub off" on others around you and leave them feeling stressed too.

The Huffington Post reports that research performed at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Technische Universität Dresden recently deduced that when some people watch another person look or feel stressed, their own levels of stress hormones tend to increase. The study's findings, which were published in the medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology​, involved pairing together either loved ones or complete strangers and having them observe one another — either through a video feed or one-way mirror — as one of the subjects was subjected to a variety of mathematic or mental tests.

While 95 percent of the tested subjects consequently experienced higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, 26 percent of the onlookers also exhibited higher cortisol production despite not having to perform any of those tasks themselves. This phenomenon was more prevalent in pairings involving loved ones than in those made up of complete strangers — 40 percent versus 10 percent, respectively. This relationship would indicate that simply watching someone undergo stress is enough to make others stressed as well.

"The fact that we could actually measure this empathic stress in the form of a significant hormone release was astonishing," Veronika Engert, a study researcher at the Max Planck Institute, said in an official statement.

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