Constant stress makes you sick

Constant stress makes you sick

Have you ever heard the saying “Don’t stress so much or you will have a heart attack”?  Well there is truth in them there words.  We know that when you get uptight, your breathing shallows, adrenaline pumps through your body, you tense your muscles, you constrict your blood vessels and you are breeding long-term inflammation.  Inflammation is at the root cause (along with a congested and sick bowel) of all modern diseases.


Your emotional state has an impact on your physical health

Chronic unhappiness activates the fight-or-flight response, which is directly linked to higher blood pressure and a lower immune response.  Anger triggers a cascade of physical reactions including increases in heart rate, arterial tension and increased testosterone production.  Lonely people are more likely to get sick and die young as their immune systems are different.  Human contact is critical to life.  People who describe themselves as ‘chronically lonely’ have distinct patterns of genetic activity, negatively involving the immune system.  Chronic stress at work and bad relationships put people at a significantly increased risk of heart attacks.  Negativity weakens your immune system.  Your emotions and your attitude play a major part in your acidity levels and your physical health.  Depression is present in barely 17% of centenarians compared with 51% of older people living in nursing homes. 


A new study explains why stress dampens the immune system

The research “suggests the kind of diseases that are going to be affected by stress,” said study lead author Sheldon Cohen, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to ABC News.  “There’s not much question that stressed people are at greater risk for developing some of these diseases or having them become more severe.  A little bit less clear is exactly how that happens.  How does stress get under the skin to affect disease outcomes?”  The researchers found that people with higher psychological stress were less able to lower or supress inflammation.  Their immune systems were compromised while they were emotional upset or feeling “pressured and overwhelmed”.


Dr. Andrew Miller, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine who studies how stress affects the immune system, also said to ABC News that the research “provides a very concrete example of how chronic stress and its effects on the immune system can affect our daily lives in a very real-world context.  In ancestral times, a stressful environment would have a high likelihood of involving some form of fighting and being wounded and thereby infected.  Inflammation is a process in the body that is essential to fighting infections and healing wounds.  Therefore, the induction of inflammation by stress is a way for the body to prepare itself for battle in an environment that represents danger of attack.”


Stress increases cortisol (as does cigarettes, alcohol and coffee)

Cortisol is a stress hormone that serves as the ‘off switch’ for the body’s inflammatory response.  We know that some people do not catch colds and others get every cold that goes around.  We know that a cold or flu is not caused directly by the virus but caused by your inflammatory response to the infection.  “You want to produce enough of inflammation to fight off the infection, but not so much that you experience cold symptoms” comments Sheldon.  “You have people whose immune cells are not responding to cortisol and, at the same time, they’re exposed to a virus system creating an inflammatory response.  But the body doesn’t have the mechanism that allows it to turn off the inflammatory response, which manifests as cold symptoms”.


Attitude is all

This is basically the latest scientific study to tell us what we inherently know; that stress-cadets create the situations and body-ecology to invite sickness and to be unable to fight off a simple cough or cold.  That elusive connection between emotional stress and physical sickness becomes clearer every year.  Your attitude of course dictates your habits, routines and decisions in life.  Shall I have an apple as a snack or shall I have three Big Macs?  That attitude makes the choices for you and sets you up for health or sickness.  Then your 'healthy or not' immune system takes over. 

Study published online April 2, 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  As reported by Neurology and on April 02, 2012.

Posted: Tuesday 10 April 2012