Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Stress Management Health Center

Font Size

Coping With Stress Helps Cholesterol

Good Coping Skills May Raise 'Good' Cholesterol Levels
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 20, 2007 -- The better you cope with stress, the better your "good" cholesterol level is likely to be, according to a new study.

"We know that stress and hostility affect cholesterol," says researcher Carolyn M. Aldwin, PhD, professor and chairwoman of the department of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis. There has been less research, however, on how coping skills can counteract the effects of stress, she says.

Good coping skills were associated with better levels of the so-called "good" cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in her study.

The study was released at the 115th annual convention of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.

Stress and Cholesterol

Aldwin and her colleagues evaluated data from 716 men who participated in the Normative Aging Study. The researchers looked at the interplay of hostility, stress, coping, and the participants' cholesterol levels.

The average age of the participants was 65; most were white. They were evenly split between white-collar and blue-collar occupations.

The researchers assessed the men's hostility and asked them to describe their most stressful problem in the past week.

The men also completed a questionnaire that asked them to rate how often they used 26 different coping strategies when dealing with a stressful problem in the past month. Some were unhealthy strategies, such as socially isolating themselves when under stress or blaming themselves for the stress. Other strategies were healthy, such as making a plan of action to deal with the problem causing the stress.

The more hostile the men were, the more likely they were to look at problems as stressful. They were also more apt to use unhealthy coping skills to deal with that stress.

After fasting overnight, the men's blood was tested for HDL cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Coping Skills Aid HDL Cholesterol

The results were a surprise, Aldwin tells WebMD. "What we were really expecting is that coping would mitigate the effects of stress on LDL," she says. But the researchers found that the good coping skills only helped the protective effect of the "good" HDL cholesterol.

Today on WebMD

Hands breaking pencil in frustration
stethoscope and dollars
Woman with stressed, fatigue
fatigued woman
hand gripping green rubber ball
family counseling
stress at work
frayed rope

WebMD Special Sections