Psychological Causes of Immune Dysfunction

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Why stress makes us sick: psychological causes of immune dysfunction Most of us are familiar with this scenario: during or after experiencing a stressful event, we start feeling sick and come down with a cold or a digestive problem. It appears that our negative emotions play a big role in influencing our physical health. We may recover fast enough after trivial everyday stressors: work deadlines, academic examinations, medical tests and job interviews. Sometimes, however, stressful situations can be severe, like an auto accident, or long-lasting, like being a caregiver for an ailing relative. Most parents, especially parents of young children, are familiar with the ever-present stress. Apparently, parenthood is not only a joyous but also a very stressful lifestyle. Permanently busy schedule, worries over children’s health, unpredictability of days (and nights), and sleep deprivation can cause both low- and high-level stress. Illnesses, exhaustion and overall run-down symptoms are frequent visitors. Although the stress of parenthood is only one of many varieties of stressful modern existence, our immune response to stress became of a personal interest to me, as someone facing these challenges every day. This connection between emotional and physical well-being has been of interest to both psychologists and immunologists since 1940s (Kiecolt-Glaser et al. 15). This interest has become a pronounced field since the publication of a research paper “Emotions, immunity, and disease: a speculative theoretical integration”, published in 1964, where George F. Solomon created the term “psychoimmunology” (Kiecolt-Glaser et al. 16). The following major event in the still emerging science of psychoimmunology that energized the field was th... ... middle of paper ... ...4. Arora, Sarika and Bhattacharjee, Jayashree. “Modulation of immune responses in stress by Yoga”. International Journal of Yoga. 12 (2008): 45-55. Web. 14 March 2014. Kiecolt-Glaser Janice K. et al. “Psychoneuroimmunology and Psychosomatic Medicine: Back to the Future”. Psychosomatic Medicine 64:15-28 (2002): 15-28. Web. 20 March 2014. Kiecolt-Glaser Janice K., McGuire, Lynanne, and Robles, Theodore F. “Psychoneuroimmunology: Psychological Influences on Immune Function and Health”. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 70.3 (2002): 537-547. Web. 21 March 2014. Marieb, Elaine N. and Hoehn, Katja. Human Anatomy and Physiology. Second Custom Edition for Arapahoe Community College. Vol.2. Pearson, 2013. Print Padgett, David A. and Glaser, Ronald. “How stress influences the immune response.” Trends in Immunology 24.8 (2003): 444-448. Web. 14 March 2014.
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