Stress Affecting the Immune System

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Veronica Coyte
November 11, 2010
Just Relax and be Healthy

Worrying over a test is normal for any student. However, tests are not the only things students have to worry over. Family matters, money problems, boyfriends or girlfriends, and even the death of a loved one can add stress to an individual. As things keep adding up and the stress level keeps rising, some students may find themselves getting sick. Before the 1970’s there was no reason to believe that stress and the immune system had anything to do with each other. This relationship which was thought to be “non-existent” would soon be found to be real and affecting millions of people. The subject became so real in the scientific world it was given its own name psychoneuroimmunology. This obnoxiously large word is just a way of stating there are connections between psychological process, the nervous system, and the body’s immune system (507).

The field of psychoneuroimmunology put power behind every college student’s excuse of “getting sick from stress of classes”, however this excuse did not generate any less homework. It was not until a psychologist Robert Ader decided to work with an immunologist named Nicholas Cohen that the stress-sickness relationship became more than a notion. It was thought that immune system was completely separate from any other bodily systems, however “The central nervous system and the immune system are directly linked via sympathetic nervous system fibers, which influence the production of lymphocytes” (507). Plainly, the immune system is affected by the central nervous system which directly deals with stress. The central nervous system (CNS) deals with stress directly because the brain is located within the CNS. Lymphocytes are the white blood cells in the body that fight pathogens and anything that may harm the individual. If the regulation of white blood cells is not normal, then sickness may occur. Also, studies were conducted where individuals...
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