When exposed to environmental threats, the body’s immune system carries out dynamic processes through the secretion of various chemicals and production of various kinds of cells, to maintain homeostasis. Whether the stressor is acute or chronic, research now indicates that psychological stress has a strong connection to immune system functioning, “through specific autonomic and neuroendocrine pathways.” In fact, “…the magnitude of the physiological response to an acute stressor is related to the objective intensity of the stressor” (Hawkley, & Cacioppo, 2003). The dynamic process begins with an acute, sequential, or chronic stressor; ranging from taking a test to being in an unhealthy relationship. The body’s immune system then reacts to that stressor by secreting neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and cortisol, to prepare the body to fight or flee. Even though this naturally occurring process is essential, frequent exposure to subjectively perceived stressors leads to alterations in the functions of certain cells of the immune system. These alterations ultimately result in an over or under reaction of immune system (Reeves, 2008). According to Reeves, physician and director of research and development, “… [an] over-reactive immune system can result in allergies, asthma, chronic inflammation, and autoimmune diseases” (Reeves, 2008). I...
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... also be argued as an indirect link as well. Stress is arguably linked to cigarette smoking, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Therefore, all of these can be considered indirect links that lead to a vicious cycle between the effect of stress and the use of stress-invoking coping mechanisms such as smoking.
Thus, chronic exposure to psychological stressors increases the risk of decreased proper immune system functioning, liver disease, and coronary artery disease. Through the use of objective studies, strong correlations between stress and an individual’s overall health have been shown. Understanding the implications of such research is important to ensure correct and effective treatments of illnesses and disorders are prescribed. Ultimately, recognition of personalized stressors and coping methods could lead individuals to an overall healthier life.
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