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Stress Can Wreak Havoc On Your Immune System, How To Manage Stress In 5 Steps

Angela Beltran

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Have you noticed that when you’re stressed about work, school, or in any aspect of your life, you easily get sick? You’re stressed and the next thing you know, you’re down with the flu.

Stress can lead to various health problems. Now, a study is telling us that exposure to stress and trauma can negatively impact one’s immune system, leading to the development of autoimmune diseases.

Stress can cause many health issues.

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In a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other stress-related psychiatric disorders are at a greater risk of developing autoimmune diseases than people who don’t.

To land to their findings, the team of researchers followed 106,464 people diagnosed with stress disorders. Also, they studied 126,652 of the participants’ siblings without stress disorders and more than 1 million others who didn’t suffer from stress disorders.

The team compared people who had the disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, and adjustment disorders with others in the general population without the conditions. The team found that stress was associated with 36 percent increased risk of developing 41 autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and lupus.

People suffering from stress disorders are more likely to develop immune diseases.

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Autoimmune diseases are disorders wherein the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s organs. The immune system senses the body’s tissues as foreign invaders.

Dr. Huan Song of the University of Iceland in Reykjavík and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, said in a statement:

“Severe or prolonged emotional stress causes alterations in multiple bodily functions through dysregulation in the release of stress hormones.”

The purpose of the study is to encourage patients with severe emotional issues after trauma or life stressors to seek treatment immediately.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress can actually weaken the immune system. In the 1980s, the link between stress and infection has been studied by psychologists. They found that stress weakens the immune system, making people prone to infections.

These studies mean that stress and other emotions (like chronic loneliness) can help to predict health status. This is because people with prolonged loneliness can experience more psychological stress.

Some people may also experience stress more intensely, leading to a lower immunity.

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So, we’ve learned that stress, particularly severe stress disorders, can definitely make us prone to immune disorders and even a lower immunity in response to infections. Here are ways to cope with stress effectively.

1. Take a break

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One of the first things you should do is to take a break from the stressor. It may seem hard to get away from your work, school problems, or family issues but it’s a way to help you relax for a moment, before facing the problem again. This way, you will feel less overwhelmed. When you’re calm, you can more effectively address the problem or stress.

2. Eat healthily

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Aside from boosting your immunity, eating healthy food choices such as fruits and vegetables helps you manage stress. A good nutrition can help boost mental clarity and the ability to handle stress effectively.

3. Meditate

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Relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga keep the mind and body relaxed and focused. Meditation clears the mind and helps people cope with stress. Also, other relaxation techniques can help loosen tense muscles, making you feel more relaxed.

4. Exercise

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Exercise is effective in relieving stress. Exercise benefits both the mind and the body. Plus, it helps boost your mood.

5. Support

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Seeking support from others is another way to relieve stress. By just venting out your problems, fears, and worries, you can effectively release tension and feel more relieved.

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