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Stress Affects Your Immune System:

Clearly Defined Patterns Revealed 

For a long time psychologists were aware of the impact stress had on the body's ability to fight infections, but now a study has shown how stress also plays a major influence in altering the functions of the immune system.
Studies on Stress and the Immune System
·      293 stress-related studies were performed between the years of 1960 and 2001
·      18,941 subjects were evaluated in the studies

Findings From the Studies

·      Periods of short-term stress triggered the immune system to prepare for injury or infection, similar to a "flight or fright" response
·      Long-term stress caused excessive wear on the body and activated a deterioration of the immune system
·      The immune systems of the elderly and those already suffering with some kind of illness were less capable of coping with stressful situations
Examples of the Five Stressors Used in the Studies
·      Acute time-limited stressors: Stress such as that brought on from speaking in front of large groups of people
·      Brief naturalistic stressors: Challenges that occur throughout certain points in a person's life such as taking school exams
·      Stressful event sequences: A specific life-changing event such as loss of a loved one in which the stress will eventually subside
·      Chronic stressors: Stress induced by an extreme change in lifestyle such as becoming a caregiver for a chronically ill person or becoming permanently disabled from an accident in which there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel
·      Distant Stressors: Stress that is the result of a traumatic event from the past that continues to wreak havoc on the immune system such as child abuse or post-traumatic stress experienced by war veterans
Researchers concluded that the stressors that most negatively compromised the immune system were the chronic stressors. Researchers also discovered the longer the duration of stress or perceived length of the stress, the less the body's ability to adapt to the stressful situation. It was determined this kind of stress could lead to serious negative health repercussions beginning with attacking the immune system at the cellular level then going after the overall broader functions of the immune system.
Researchers plan to conduct future studies to evaluate the degree that stress-related changes altered the immune system and how it could result in leaving otherwise healthy individuals vulnerable to diseases.
Psychological Bulletin July 4, 2004, Full-Text PDF (30 pages) 

Dr. Mercola's Comment:
Stress is a large part of the reason why most chronic illness develops and this in-depth study reinforces this theory particularly when it comes to individuals facing long-term stress. Stress can seriously impact your health and when you find ways to control stress in your life you could significantly reduce your risk of developing stress-induced diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
I believe the most powerful intervention for stress is some form of prayer. Many who do not have access to some advanced psychotherapy interventions also find help with a written form of prayer called journaling.
This is where one writes or types non-stop every day for 30 minutes. It is an incredibly powerful and profound healing technique. One does not have to save the written information and should delete or burn the document after it is written so he or she will feel free to write whatever is concerning them.
Along these lines, another effective strategy in dealing with stress that I personally use is the Insight audio CD. It's an exceptional tool to help you dramatically reduce stress.
Related Articles:
Five Simple Strategies to Reduce Stress and Eliminate Exhaustion
Stress Management May Help Heart Disease Patients
More Evidence That Stress is Major Factor for Infections
Stress Treatments Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes
Beware of Colds If You Are Under Stress
Most Common Cause of Heart Attacks

Stress Can Age You Faster

Increasing evidence has shown that stressful situations could take a toll upon a person's body such as by compromising the immune system or elevating blood pressure. Scientific data has now revealed that extended exposure to psychological stress could speed up the aging process of a person's cells and cause them to die at a faster rate than normal.
These findings prompted researchers to examine why these effects were happening from a molecular standpoint.
Researchers discovered that protein-DNA complexes known as telomeres acted as the timekeeper communicating to the cells how long they would live. Telemores are the caps at the end of chromosomes that are responsible for promoting genetic stability. They could be compared to the plastic tips that protect shoelaces. Each time a cell divides the telemores becomes shorter. As part of the natural aging process, the caps begin to dwindle away to tiny nubs causing the cells to stop dividing and eventually die.

How Stress Impacts Cell Longevity

In the study, 58 healthy women between the ages of 20 and 50 were given a questionnaire on the amount of day-to-day stress they encountered. All of the participants were mothers of at least one child and 39 of the participants were the primary caregivers for a chronically ill child.
It was no surprise that the mothers who were the primary caregivers of chronically ill children reported higher stress levels than the mothers in the control group. One of the key findings showed that the mothers who reported the most stress had significantly shorter telomeres and less telomerase activity than the control group.
One researcher labeled these findings as "arguably the best cellular pacemaker of aging out there."
EurekAlert November 29, 2004
MSNBC November 29, 2004 

Dr. Mercola's Comment:
It's about time medicine acknowledged, once and for all, the connection between the psychological stress people feel and the negative effect it has on their bodies. There is no question that it can have a profound effect.
Please also review my comment on the article in this issue, Can Colds Really Be Deadly? for other perspectives on stress.
The connection between emotional and physical health is not only the foundation of my vision but also a recurring factor in the illnesses of nearly all the patients I see. As they point out in this article, stress can also play a major role in how well the immune system functions and can lead to negative effects on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The key to staying healthy is not eliminating the stress itself, as we're all exposed to stress daily, but adjusting your body's ability to tolerate it. Of course, limiting stressful situations as much as possible will help.
I've found energy psychology tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can be very useful in battling the daily stressors in your life. A form of psychological acupressure, EFT, is based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for more than 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. You can review my free online manual to learn how to use this effective tool.

There's no questioning the power of prayer either. So many studies have documented it, and the science that proves its healing power is very solid. So solid that I believe it's criminally negligent for physicians not to recommend it in some form. If you're interested in learning more about prayer and how it affects medical science, read Dr. Larry Dossey's article on Prayer and Medical Science.
If you work with meditation to keep stress at bay, you may want to consider trying the Insight CD. This brainwave entrainment tool allows your brain to rapidly and easily synchronize with the delta waves commonly experienced in meditation. It's like meditating in a fraction of the time, and it does a phenomenal job of enhancing and expanding emotional, mental and spiritual capabilities.

Related Articles:
Stress Management May Help Heart Disease Patients
Stress, Depression Rewires the Brain
Stress Treatments Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes
Five Simple Strategies to Reduce Stress and Eliminate Exhaustion
Stress Can Harm Your Heart, But Pets Can Help
How to Eliminate the Damaging Effects of Stress
Source URL : http://www.mercola.com/2004/dec/15/stress_aging.htm

The damaging effects of stress on your health
By Dr. Ben Lerner

In 1994 when I taught my first class in anatomy and physiology at a local college, I was shocked to find that the largest chapter in the four-inch thick textbook was on stress. The fact is, stress is not just a term or a state of mind, it is incredibly damaging to your body. Stress is something you must drastically minimize in order to not just stay sane, but to stay healthy.
Damaging stress is created when forces or circumstances outside the body overwhelm the mind, the physiology, and the senses in the body causing them to go through a negative change.
Unlike the obviously harmful events such as a fresh cut that bleeds, the damaging and even deadly effects of stress can often be a silent killer.
There is a direct link between stress and the dysfunction of various parts and systems within the body. Stress reactions alter the digestive system, over-stimulate certain glands while under stimulating others, affect heart function and change breathing. As a result, stress has an actual, measurable negative impact on:

·      Blood pressure
·      Cholesterol
·      Electrolytes
·      Brain chemistry
·      Blood sugar levels
·      Joint function
·      Hormonal balance

All of the physiological problems associated with stress will speed up the aging process and cause or contribute to literally every type of symptom or disease known to man. Stress even makes you gain weight.
People all face much of the same outside factors that cause stress. Work, relationships, school, personal and family health problems, money issues, and even positive events like weddings and parties can all be stress- producing circumstances. However, none of these things are necessarily bad.
Both happy events and tragedies alike cause a stress response in the body. Some stress is unavoidable. The only way to have zero stress is to not get up in the morning!
On the other hand, stress only becomes negative when your response to it is negative. The condition we call stress is entirely self-induced. It is how each individual responds to stress, and not the stress itself, that causes a negative reaction in the body.

Source URL : http://mercola.com/2004/jun/16/eliminate_stress.htm

L’Amour, la Sagesse et la Joie
sont à l'intérieur de chacun de nous.
Nous n'avons qu'à être dans le calme et la paix
pour reconnaître ces trésors
cachés dans notre propre coeur.

Love, Wisdom, Beauty and Joy
are inside each one of us.
One only needs to be in calmness and in peace
in order to recognise these treasures
hidden in his own heart.

Last update of htis page September 25th 2006
...the encounter of the body and the soul
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