Can stress really make us sick?

Posted on May 19, 2014

It seems like a no-brainer that stress may make us more likely to succumb to viruses and other infections, but that’s a tough connection to make scientifically.

For starters, it would not be ethical to test the idea by putting people under extreme stress and exposing them to dangerous infections in the laboratory. But some scientists have nonetheless found ways to study the problem. . Their findings show that the picture is more complicated than the notion that too much stress can overwhelm the immune system.

Hormones biologically express our emotions, says Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, a psychologist at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and a pioneer in this field. Stress hormones are part of the “fight or flight” response that primes your body for battling a saber-toothed predator or avoiding a car crash.

"But if stress is chronic every day, pumping out hormones without any escaping or fighting, then it's not good for your immune system," impairing its response to infection, Kiecolt-Glaser says. And Americans’ chronic stress isn't going away.

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Category(s):Stress Management

Source material from Washington Post

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