Stress and Anxiety
The relationship between anxiety, stress, and weak immunity or sick or illness is complicated.
Stress and anxiety affect everyone, whether it is young or old, rich or poor. Life is full of stress, it’s always with us.
Stress is typically tied to a specific situation. Once that situation resolves, it also goes away (1)
Anxiety is a feeling of fear, or worry, it can occur as a reaction to stress, and it can also happen without any clear trigger.
The influence of stress, anxiety and depression on allergies, dermatitis, and asthma has also been reported.
Research evidence supports that depression and stress are related to cancer development (2).
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How Does The Immune system Work?
The immune system is made up of special organs, and cells that fight against invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
The immune system is spread throughout the body and involves many essential parts, cells, tissues, and antibodies.
Anti-bodies play a vital role in protecting the immune system.
It is designed for the specific binding site that only connects with the specific antigens that have their structures on their binding sites.
And only allow the good bacteria to enter, and grabs bad bacteria to kill.
If a person frequently falls from a viral infection, fever, cough, cold, and other illnesses like typhoid, then it may sign of weak immunity.
There are many reasons, or I say environmental factors for Low immunity including:
- Excessive alcohol
- poor nutrition
- tension, or anxiety and stress
- some medical treatment
- certain medication intake
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How do stress and anxiety can cause a weak immune system?
When your body is under stress or anxiety it releases a hormone called cortisol, which can suppress your immune system (9).
Research reveals that stress affects the immune system – leads to inflammation, wound healing, and responses to infectious agents and other immune challenges.
Several studies have reported that depression or stress situations decrease neutrophil, and lymphocyte activities, making the immune system weak (4) (5).
However, not only stress and anxiety can cause a weak immune system but there are some other conditions including:
- someone’s death (loved one)
- past trauma
- a divorce (6)
- a poor environment
- excessive alcohol and bad habits
- students in exam periods
Research studies report that chronic forms of stress were accompanied by suppressed natural killer cell – cytotoxicity, blunted humoral responses, etc (7) (8).
Mice studies found that during acute stress, T cells selectively redistributed into the skin, which resulted in an increase in the immune response.
A study found on immune function suggests that there may be a relationship between anxiety and the immune system.
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How do stress and anxiety get inside our bodies?
First – Through brain fibers to bone marrow, thymus, and secondary spleen and lymph nodes.
Second – Through several hormones including adrenal, pituitary, melatonin, etc.
These substances bind to specific receptors on WBC and have diverse regulatory effects on their distribution and function (7).
People’s efforts to manage the stressful experience sometimes lead them to engage in that behavior including:
- Alcohol use
- changes sleeping patterns
- smoking makes a person temporarily feel good
- bad habits
All these modify immune system processes. and this behavior potentially becomes a vital pathway for stress in the immune system.
Effects of immune activation stress on brain function may well have a bearing on mental health and may lead to novel therapeutic possibilities.
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Stress and illness and wound healing
Studies clearly revealed that chronic stress has been linked with the risk of numerous illnesses or diseases (13) (14) (15) (16) including:
- cardiovascular disease
- increased heart rate
- certain cancers
- autoimmune disease
- mortality (15)
- during stress, digestion is inhibited
- high blood pressure
- increase in blood cholesterol levels
Studies pin that stress and other behavioral factors can hinder the wound healing process and compromise immunity (16) (17) (18) (19).
The human study showed that stress-induced glucocorticoid production has been allied with delayed wound healing.
However, some studies have shown that stressed activity can positively affect wound healing.
Acute and chronic stressors can negatively impact the wound healing process, by inducing the inflammatory process.
When your body is under stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol, which can suppress your immune system.
If a person frequently falls from a viral infection, fever, cough, cold, and other illnesses, then it may sign of weak immunity.