Chronic stress makes our body more susceptible to disease. In question: the immune system which is weakened by anxiety. Explanations.
In small doses, stress helps. Stress indeed provides the energy necessary to face a difficulty. During evolution, stress-related reactions have been selected to allow us to react quickly to dangerous situations. Does one-off stress arise? Your heart and breathing rates quicken, preparing you to take your legs to your neck. It is the state of alarm and your body secretes adrenaline, a hormone that will allow you to flee or effectively face the “threat”: In both cases, the mobilization of all our resources is a guarantee of success. But if the stressful stimulus continues, your body returns to a state of the so-called resistance. Like the threat to the in order to last, the body puts all the forces on its side: it releases sugar in the blood so that it can provide the necessary energy for a period without food intake, and releases new hormones: cortisol, endorphin, dopamine and serotonin, all with one goal: to be able to survive danger.
Chronic stress: the inflammatory system fatigue
the body begins a phase of exhaustion where the defense reactions are continuously produced. This state of chronic stress then becomes harmful, which generally results in hypersensitivity, headaches, visual disturbances, insomnia. or even changes in appetite. . In the question: dysfunctions at the level of the inflammatory system.
The body no longer pays attention to warning signals
. First, according to a 2012 study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, the body gets used to high levels of cortisol in the blood, one of the stress hormones. Usually, cortisol sounds the alarm bells for the immune system in times of stress but also in infection. However, with chronic stress, the body gets used to it, so the hormone loses its effectiveness, and you get sick more often. The mechanism resembles the story of the child who cried wolf: by dint of receiving signals of inflammation via the constantly present cortisol, the body no longer listens to it and therefore does not react when there is a real threat. .
When the white blood cells are racing
At the same time, within the immune arsenal itself, white blood cells seem to be affected by states of chronic stress according to a study conducted in 2013 by researchers at the University of Ohio. These cells have the function of spotting and breaking down pathogens that they encounter in the body, such as viruses and bacteria. However, when a person is permanently stressed, their body seems to produce these white blood cells in greater numbers. But rather than being satisfied with their role of sentinel, they attack then the healthy tissues of the individual. Result: their hyperactivity is taken into account in the declaration of pathologies such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disorders.
Colds, asthma or depression.
Other changes in the management of the immune system, especially by glands such as the hypothalamus, could also have a role in the general weakening of the defenses. For an immune body weakened by chronic anxiety, the risks are multiple: in addition to the increased sensitivity to daily infections (colds, flu, gastroenteritis, etc.) scientists have identified an acceleration in aging, hormonal cycle disorders in women, declaration or worsening of asthma, psoriasis, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease but also cancer. In addition, psychological disorders related to stress can occur such as depression, phobias, or even addictions.
Learn to ease off.
To avoid reaching a state of chronic stress, it is necessary to know how to regularly release ballast, so that the body can rest and regain a resting metabolism. For example, methods such as relaxation therapy or meditation can help you control your anxiety. Subject to work-related stress and moral distress, beware of burnout: do not hesitate to talk to a doctor to fight it rather than let it win.