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Relationship Between Stress and Illness

Stress Free, the Way to Be
Uriia Underhill, B.Sc. 

For a decade, researchers have suspected that psychological and behavioral events could influence the immune system. Now research has proven that the immune system actually sends signals to the brain that can alter neural activity thus altering thought, mood and behavior. Maier, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado “ It is true, stress makes you physically sick.”

The body’s first line of defense is called the “nonspecific immune response.” This is the first line of defense sent in a rapid manner to help fight off infection or to help aid in recovery from an injury. This response is usually initiated within an hour or two.
Once the nonspecific immune response has been initiated several physiological and behavioral changes begin to occur. These changes come in the form of reduced water and food intake, reduced sexual activity, fever, changes in the liver metabolism, increased anxiety, release of stress hormone such as cortisol.

Just as the body reacts from an infection, the body has the same response when in stress. The body senses stress as an illness and the nonspecific immune response is initiated. After a period of time if the body remains in stress, the body continues to fight the “problem”. If stress does not become better the body will be in a state of sickness.
Just like physical activity is important to a healthy body, a healthy mind can greatly improve and protect your immune responses. Being able to manage stress can greatly improve your health as well as strengthen your immune system.


Azar, B., (2001) American Psychological Association, (2013) A New Take on Psychoneuroimmunology, Retrieved October 15, 2013 from http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec01/anewtake.aspx

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