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Psychological Stress and Immune system

Psychological Stress and Immune system
Our immune system is a collection of billion of cells that move through the blood stream in our
body.These cells move in and out of tissues and organs, defending the body against foreign
bodies (antigens), such as bacteria, viruses, and cancerous cells.
The main types of immune cells are white blood cells. There are two types of white blood cells –
lymphocytes and phagocytes. When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off
antigens is decreased. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. Stress reduced the
effectiveness of the immune system in different ways:
Stress influence on the digestive system
After stress digestive activity increases. This may affect the health of the digestive system and
cause ulcers. Another reason is an adrenaline which released during a stress response that can
also cause ulcers.
Stress influence on cardiovascular system
Stress responses increase strain upon the circulatory system due to increased heart rate and blood
pressure.Firstly when we get stressed it affects the immune system by raising blood
pressure. This situation can lead to very serious cardiovascular diseases ,for example,
hypertension (consistently raised blood pressure over several weeks) is a major risk factor in
coronary heart disease (CHD) However, CHD may be caused by eating too much salt, drinking
too much coffee or alcohol.
Increased heart rate and blood
Temporary influence of stress is not dangerous for body.However chronic and constant stress
can make the body to be vulnerable to infections and illnesses.One example of this conditon is
AIDS - Acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Inuence on stress hormones on
immune processes
Changes on digestve system
Age also plays an important role when coping with stress.For example, meta-analysis revealed
that people who are older or already sick are more prone to stress-related immune changes. For
example, a 2002 study by Lyanne McGuire, PhD, of John Hopkins School of Medicine with
Kiecolt-Glaser and Glaser reported that even chronic, sub-clinical mild depression may suppress
an older person's immune system. Participants in the study were in their early 70s and caring for
someone with Alzheimer's disease. Those with chronic mild depression had weaker lymphocyte-
T cell responses to two mitogens, which model how the body responds to viruses and bacteria.
The immune response was down even 18 months later, and immunity declined with age. In line
with the 2004 meta-analysis, it appeared that the key immune factor was duration, not severity,
of depression. And in the case of the older caregivers, their depression and age meant a double-
whammy for immunity.
Finally, the relationship between stress and the immune system is bidirectional and can affect
each other in ways that are quite elusive and thus has attracted much attention from the scientific
community.Holzer et al. has introduced the reverse path of immune function leading to stress
responses, especially from the visceral system to brain function, behavior, and stress coping.
Effects of immune activation stress on brain function may well have a coping mental health and
may lead to novel therapeutic possibilities.
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