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Stress and Immunity - Essay Example

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Stress and Immunity: The Continuous Struggle against Stressful Life Events Introduction The evident connection between stress, immunity, and several kinds of disease perhaps reveal the fact that stress can weaken the immune system of our body. The immune system is the protective reaction of the body to foreign elements, such as viruses and bacteria…
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Download file to see previous pages Numerous empirical findings in animals and humans substantiate linkage between physical and psychological types of stress and immunological adjustments. Adjustments in the immune response have been reported to go with bereavement, unemployment, coping with phobia, divorce, work-related stress, examinations, exercise, etc (Rice 2000). This essay discusses comprehensively the relationship between stress and immunity. The first section gives an overview of such relationship; the second presents a brief discussion of the cultural and social influences on stress and immunity; the third focuses on the relationship between stress and schizophrenia, with a discussion of policy and practice implications; and last sums up the entire discourse. Stress and Immunity The assumption that stress can increase the likelihood of acquiring physical illnesses is not completely unknown. Proofs that stress can bring about physical ailment started to build up in the 1930s (Edworthy 2000). The term ‘psychosomatic disease’— actual physical illnesses that were believed to be brought about, to a certain extent, by psychological aspects like stress-- was known far and wide. The common psychosomatic ailments were asthma, tension headaches, peptic ulcers, eczema, and high blood pressure (Rice 2000, 64). These illnesses were not considered as ‘unreal’ physical diseases. The concept of ‘psychosomatic’ has usually been used wrongly to denote physical illnesses that are ‘imagined,’ but that is a completely distinct set of symptoms (Rice 2000, 64). Instead, according to Lovallo (2005), psychosomatic illnesses were regarded as ‘real’ untreated problems that were profoundly caused by stress. The term ‘psychosomatic’ illness has slowly been neglected since the 1970s because studies have reported that stress can heighten the development of a wide range of other illnesses previously assumed to be wholly caused by physiological factors. Hence, it has become evident that psychosomatic illnesses should not be given a specific classification since there is nothing unusual about them (Rice 2000). However, numerous findings show that experimentally stimulated stress can weaken immunity of animals. To be exact, stressors like restrictions, shock, congesting, and food limit weaken different features of immune responses in animal subjects (Steckler, Kalin, & Reul 2005). Apparently, according to Ayers and colleagues (2007), stress can also have an effect on the immune responses of animals in natural environments. Chronic diseases have a harmful effect on immune responses and stress makes the capabilities of individuals to cope with these diseases much worse. Segerstrom and Miller (2004), in a comprehensive evaluation of three decades of empirical work on stress and immunity, report that constant stress can weaken ‘humoral immune response’ which defend the body from bacteria and other extracellular pathogens, and ‘cellular immune responses’ which defend the body from viruses and other intracellular pathogens (as cited in Ayers, Baum, McManus 2007, 168). Moreover, according to Ayers and colleagues (2007), they conclude that the length of a stressful episode is a major aspect establishing its effect on immune responses. As stated by Steckler and colleagues (2005), lifelong stressors, like looking after a gravely ailing loved one or long-term joblessness, are ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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