How Are Stress and Immunity Related | Effects of Stress on Immunity

How Are Stress and Immunity Related | Effects of Stress on Immunity

What Is Stress?

According to psychology stress is a feeling of emotional or physical strain and pressure. Stress can be positive or negative, small amount of positive stress can be beneficial and healthy it helps in improving performance motivation and adaptation. Negative stress is a big box full of problems, it decreases performance, demotivates individual and leads to mental and physical problems.

How Are Stress and Immunity Related | Effects of Stress on Immunity

stress and immunity,stress and immunity relation,effects of stress on immunity

Dr.Hans Selye the founder of stress theory, according to him stress can be perceived by a person in two forms which he called negative stress as ¨Distress¨ and positive stress as ¨Eustress¨, the simplest way to understand both the terms are looking back at exam times, just a few days before the exam you feel under stress and under pressure, some of us can be able to use that feeling positively and it becomes a motivation to study harder and perform better and that feeling becomes ultimately useful, this is known as ¨Eustress¨

While rest of us respond poorly to the situation and feel anxious, we feel all the emotions in the head, feel dizzy, feel nausea and even get sick during this period, you may have studied well for the exams but the pressure and stress gets the nerves and you perform very less than your potential this is distress. Now we understood the term stress and its forms, let us look what happens when we are stressed.

During the time of stress the hypothalamus a collection of nuclei that connects the brain and the endocrine system signals a pituitary gland to produce which in turn signals adrenal glands located above the kidneys to increase the production of cortisol, this is extremely useful in short term scenarios, that is the reason why cortisol is known as the ¨Stress Hormone¨.

In humans one of the system that responds to challenging circumstances is the immune system, broadly the immune system comprises of cells, proteins, organs that work together to provide protection against bodily diseases. During acute stress that lasts for a matter of minutes or hours the immune system mobilizes the cells which prepare the body for injury or infection, these immune cells under the influence of cortisol fight off infections and the body manages the stressful scenario. In this process pro inflammatory cytokines are also produced which are necessary for eliminating pathogens and initiating healing, however this process of inflammation has its own problems as it leads to oxidative damage, free radical damage, cellular death, aging and systemic tissue degeneration.

To prevent this our body secretes cortisol it provides the energy that is required to deal with the challenge, it´s also a potent anti-inflammatory that prevents damage to the bodies own cells. Kaiko Glasser and scientists performed an experiment on medical students to observe the effects of exam time stress on immunity, these medical students were divided into two groups out of which 49 were males and 26 were females, the team of scientists took blood samples from both the groups before the exam which was relatively low stress time and after the exam which was the high stress time, the activity of lymphocytes was checked in blood samples of both the groups before and after the exam and the researchers found that immune responses were weak in the students after the exam and also influence who are experiencing stressful life events and psychiatric symptoms such as depression or anxiety.

What does this immune system dysfunction do to the stress lead to your tendency and frequency of falling sick increases exponentially and also if you are already having an illness your symptoms might get progressively severe. Sustained cortisol activity during stress is associated with increase in gastro intestinal symptoms which explains the stomach ache and frequent visits to the washrooms.

High level of inflammation promoting cytokines resulting from stress have recently been implicated in etiology of psychiatric disorders. Chronic stress has been shown to enhance risk for developing autoimmune diseases because of constant immune dysfunction, also there is bone and muscle breakdown, fatigue, depression, pain and memory impairments.

Hope this article on How Are Stress and Immunity Related | Effects of Stress on Immunity has helped you in giving some insights.

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