Home > Uncategorized > Stress may alter body’s immune response

Stress may alter body’s immune response

In this study at Carnegie Mellon University, they discuss how stress has negative consequences on your immune system and this article explains the scientific reasoning behind this.

Cortisol  helps reduce inflammatory response by binding to the white blood cells. In the people who have undergone longterm stress,they found that there is receptor resistance which leads to unresponsiveness to cortisol-there is enough cortisol, but it won’t bind to receptors of the white blood cells. As a result, not only is the duration for the sickness longer but it seems to be more intense in its symptoms than it would be otherwise. The cytokines are the chemical messengers responsible for producing a response to the inflammation. The people who are stressed and have a lower ablitity of modulating their immune system produce more cytokines, and as a result, they experience greater inflammatory symptoms. The inflammatory  response is not limited to just the flu but  it also plays a role in other infections. However Professor Andrew Lloyd does not want us to draw definitive conclusions from this and says that more studies are necessary in real life situations.

As students, we are almost always undergoing some stress, and I always get some sort of sickness when exams start to approach, so I thought I would share the explanation behind it. Do you guys notice your body becoming extra sensitive to infections when you are the most stressed?

Article: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/04/03/3469033.htm?topic=health

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 9, 2012 at 2:08 am

    It is very well-known in medicine that stress lowers your body’s immune system response and makes you more susceptible to sickness. As mentioned above, this is why being so stressed out a lot is so unhealthy. And it is true, I know that when I am under a lot of stress, whether due to tests or work or life in general, it follows not too much later that I typically come down with some type of illness. We also don’t feel our best- being stressed “zapps” a lot of our energy, both physically and mentally. We’ll often feel tired or exhausted all the time, or short tempered and aggravated at little things. I for one am typically always under some kind of stress, and I have many techniques for curbing it and releasing some of it. My most common and best one, and one that is also supported by a lot of science, is of course physical activity. It releases that pent-up stress and energy, and also releases those endorphines that gives you that “runners high” after you exercise. So for all of us stressed out there, (and it’s about to get worse, thanks to finals coming up!) I recommend that you take just a quick 20 or 30 minute break and go on a jog, or kick around a soccer ball, or beat up on a punching bag. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better afterwards.

  2. April 9, 2012 at 2:34 am

    Stress has a significant negative impact on your immune system, because it is triggered by the fight-or-flight inclination of your body and you generally don’t need the ability to fight disease while punching someone or running away. I don’t get sick after long periods of stress but I definitely use a lot more energy for simple tasks. High intensity mental focus combined with your body going into combat mode is a double team of strain placed on your body. When a period of stress extends to a certain point, your heart rate will stay at that strained point, your hormones stay at the same heightened level and your cortisol levels will stay that high. This is because your body has recognized your stressed state as “normal”. After this point you are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, strokes, and other stress related conditions. That’s why it is important to manage your stress before you get overwhelmed. Just don’t worry about it too much 🙂

  3. zmackay
    April 9, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Having discovered this post while up late writing a paper, I could not agree more with the study, at least as pertaining to my own life. What really strikes me is the extent to which even short-term stress can impact our health. Particularly in college, students experience such sporadic intervals of intense stress, which tend to be followed by equally extreme periods relaxation, for example, a week of tests and papers followed by an entire weekend of sleep. Just like anything else, stress and sleep, when taken to extremes, can be really harmful. Unlike things like drinking or drug use however, we are much less aware of these potential dangers. Pulling an all-nighter to write a paper may seem like only option the night before it’s due, but the subsequent head-cold you contract because your immune system is not functioning optimally may in fact set you even more behind. I think it’s important, and I really try to remind myself to manage my time, and my stress well. This is so much easier if we can remember that it directly impacts not just our mental anxiety, but our physical health as well.

  4. April 9, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Today, I was having a conversation with a friend. After asking her how she was, she quickly proclaimed, “This has been the worst week!” Apparently she had 6 papers and 2 exams. By the time she was nearing the end of the week, 5 papers down, her body caved. The stress matched with exhaustion finally took its toll, and she became physically ill with symptoms we normally call the “stomach flu”. There comes a point when stress really does take its toll on our bodies, at least that is something I believe. Granted, the affects of stress vary depending upon the individual and how they respond to situations. But for those who cannot handle stress well, the consequences can potentially be life threatening. And that is something that should never be taken lightly.

  5. April 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Stress is extremely harming to not only your immune system but heart health as well. There have been an immense amount of studies conducted dealing with a high risk for cardiovascular disease in direct proportion with anxiety and stress levels present. Stress is almost impossible to avoid, but there are certain measures by which it can be reduced or prolonged from serious effects. One of the main things to do is to keep a healthy diet and workout plan. Your body needs a variety of vitamins and nutrients present in order to be able to deal with challenges both physical and mental. Working out has been proven to release a sufficient amount of endorphins which help lead to a happy existence and relieve stressful emotions. Another factor that may help one deal with stress is taking some time to appreciate what you love. Whether it be a day at the spa, retail therapy or a hike through the mountains take the time out to do something for yourself. Your body will appreciate it and especially your mind.

  6. April 9, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I was definitely was not surprised when I read this post. Stress affects your body in so many ways. From immune systems, to the way you look, to women’s menstrual cycle etc. I do notice changes in my body when I am more stressed than useful. I was so stressed one time my immune system was so low that I got food poisoning from food that I ate on a regular basis. I am also not surprised that stress harms your heart health as well. Stress is a scary thing because we can’t really control it. When we have papers and exams due there is not much we can do but get them done and stress while doing it. People say to relax but its hard to relax when there isn’t a reason to relax. There is a reason to be stressed. This is why I always hate when exams and papers are due the same week and even days. This creates problems for students and the teachers do not realize it.

  7. anthonypribadi
    April 10, 2012 at 2:40 am

    First thing first. I am quite surprised actually by the fact that if someone posts something about stress, typically that post will get a lot of comments (such as this one). Maybe this is because we all can relate to this relevant topic very easily.

    And yeah, answering neharj’s question, I think my body gets weaker as well when I am under stress. I am the witness myself. I think that our mind state and our physical state are connected, in a way. When I am happy, I tend to be healthy, and I can get things done more quickly as well. But when I am sad or stressed, it feels that I am in no mood to do anything and it just takes me a lot of time and effort to finish any demanding task. And typically my body gets weak as well, you know, I start to sneeze, cough, feel sleepy quickly, etc.

    There was even this experiment (which is claimed to be a hoax by some people, but I still found that interesting) which concludes that our voice/vibe has some kind of energy. That energy can be either positive or negative. When someone says good and positive words to a bowl of rice, apparently the rice in that bowl stays fresh longer than the rice in the other bowl which receives the bad and negative words. One stays fresh, the other gets rotten. And obviously, if we are under stress, we don’t really have that positive vibe, and thus, we may get ‘rotten’ easily.

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