The tricky linkage between stress and immune depression

Evolution of modern medicine has led to the exclusion of skepticism between stress and physical health of our body system.

Evolution of modern medicine has led to the exclusion of skepticism between stress and physical health of our body system.

Research done by scientists closely appreciates the relationship between the mind of an individual and the body health status.

There are common diseases in our society that are commonly linked with emotional stress and these includes chest pains that are sometimes linked to heart diseases, hives in some individuals that can be linked to increased gastric acid secretion, gastritis and most commonly stomach upsets.

Stress is sometimes difficult to define and analyse. This creates a lot of challenges, especially for immunologists to come up with a clear protocol to manage immune depression brought about by emotional stress as compared to immune deficiency caused by other body illnesses.

This is true because in our daily lives, what appear to be stressful situations for one person might be different for another.

When people are exposed to various situations they regard to be stressful, it is difficult for them to measure how much stress they feel, and difficult for scientists as well to know if a person’s subjective impression of the amount of stress is accurate.

Sometimes medical experts tend to reflect immune depression based on historical presentation of some illnesses like cardiac arrhythmia, among others, but such factors may be a reflection of other underlying illnesses.

Health experts can only measure things that may reflect stress such as the number of times the heart beats each minute, but such measures also may reflect other factors.

Psychological stress can be even more damaging than physical stress. For example, a comparison of lifespan to people of old age and current generation gives a clear cut point.

People in the past used to suffer a lot of physical aggression; they travelled miles and worked tenuously for many hours to survive, they managed to live longer than a current generation of technology and lots of civilised urbanisation going around.

To succeed in today’s world, you need to think well and work hard to push on life. Physical application has been replaced by technology use, a factor that calls for lots of mind and expensive in every sense.

It is very difficult to measure stress because of various associated factors. In some controlled experiments, scientists tend to measure the effect of some applied chemicals to the body system such as the amount of antibodies produced by a particular type of immune system cell when it is exposed to a particular chemical compound.

But in human beings, this kind of control is not possible because there are always many other events that take place in our body system even at the time these measurements are taken.

Stressful situations can reduce various aspects of the cellular immune response in our body system. Psychological stress affects the immune system by disrupting communication between the nervous system, the hormonal system, and the immune system.

These three physiological systems communicate frequently and need to work in close coordination for life to be effective.

A disruption in one of coordination systems usually leads to illnesses and life threatening challenges.

For example long-term stress can release stress hormones such as glucocorticoids. Increased release of these hormones in blood can affect the function of the thymus where important immune cells such as the lymphocytes are produced.

This can inhibit the production of cytokines and interleukins, immune cell modulators that stimulate and coordinate white blood cell activity.

One of the common challenges linked with this phenomenon is increased risk of infection especially with decreased white blood cell activity.

Dr Joseph Kamugisha is a resident oncologist at Jerusalem Hospital, Israel