Stress is a part of modern life. When we face a new challenge or an important event, we can experience tension mixed with excitement and a sense of challenge. This “good” tense, or eustresscritical to growth, development and performance.
However, prolonged stress and overwhelming or traumatic events can have a negative impact on our health. These “bad” forms of stress — or suffering — can make us sick, depressed, anxious, and in the long run, increase our risk heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, dementia and even cancer.
Suffering can also affect our ability Full recovery from COVID. Symptoms that persist for a month or more are known as persistent COVID. Those affected may experience fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and/or depression. For some people, these symptoms can last for months or even years, making it impossible for you to return to your pre-COVID life.
In one Harvard University Research published last month, those who suffer psychological suffering resulting in their COVID infection are more likely to have a longer duration of COVID. The researchers found that people with two types of distress (depression, probable anxiety, perceived stress, COVID anxiety, and loneliness) were nearly 50 percent more likely to have long-term COVID than those who did not. other participation.
So how can suffering affect the body’s ability to fight infection?
First, we need to look at inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s way of responding to an infection or injury.
When Immune System For example, when encountering a virus, it will launch an attack to disable the infected cells and store a memory about that virus so that it can react faster and more efficiently next time.
Many things can cause inflammation, including bacteria and viruses, trauma, toxins and chronic stress.
The body has many different responses to inflammation, including redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Some inflammatory response can take place silently inside the body, without any typical symptoms. At other times, inflammation can mobilize energy sources causing exhaustion and fever.
During inflammation, immune cells release substances known as inflammatory mediators. These chemical messengers cause small blood vessels to become wider (dilate), allowing more blood to reach injured or infected tissues to help the healing process.
This process can also irritate nerves and cause pain signals to be sent to the brain.
What does suffering have to do with inflammation?
In the short term, stress reason releases hormones that suppress inflammation, ensuring the body has enough energy available to deal with the immediate threat.
However, over long periods of time, stress itself can cause low-grade “silent” inflammation. Chronic distress and related mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, are both associated with elevated levels of inflammatory mediators. In fact, repeated exposure to mild, unpredictable stress is enough to trigger an inflammatory response.
Preclinical (lab-based) learn have shown that mild chronic stress can induce depressive-like behavior by promoting inflammation, including the activation of immune cells in the brain (microglia). When anti-inflammatory drugs are taken during exposure to mild stress, they suppress depressive-like behaviors. However, if used after this event, the anti-inflammatory will lose its effectiveness.
When inflammation is ongoing, such as during prolonged periods of distress, Immune System change the way it responds by reprogramming immune cells. Effectively it goes into “low supervision mode”. This way, it remains active throughout the body, but reduces the ability to react to new threats.
Because of this, the reaction can be slower and less efficient. As a result, the recovery process may take longer. For a virus like COVID, it’s possible that prior exposure could also impair the body’s ability to fight infection and increase the risk of prolonged COVID disease.
How might hardship affect recovery from COVID?
Much remains to be learned about how COVID infection affects the body and how psychological factors may impact clinical outcomes in the short and long term.
COVID has far-reaching effects on many body systems, affecting the lungs and heart to the greatest extent, and increasing the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Because the virus resides in human cells, the immune system goes into “low surveillance mode” due to psychological anxiety that may miss an early opportunity to destroy infected tissue. The virus can then gain an advantage over the defense (immunity) system.
In contrast, distress can suppress an early response, tilting the balance in favor of the aggressor.
So what should we do with it?
Vaccines work by helping to train the immune system to find a target sooner, giving the immune system an advantage.
Behavioral interventions to improve the ability to cope with stress reduce inflammation and may help boost the immune response to COVID.
It is also important to note that exposure to COVID increase risk depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. Knowledge of this two-way linkage is an important first step towards improving clinical outcomes.
A lifestyle medicine approach to reducing distress and addressing mental health symptoms has important benefits for physical health. This may not only be the result of direct effects on the immune system itself, but also involves improve health behaviors such as diet, exercise and/or sleep.
Further research is needed to better understand the effects of depression about the immune system, mental health, and COVID outcomes, and highlight interventions to prevent prolonged COVID and support recovery.
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