Stress and Risk for Autoimmune Diseases: Long-term psychological stress can deteriorate multiple bodily systems. Stress hormone levels are elevated and the autonomic nervous system (ANS) becomes dysregulated resulting in impairment of immune system functioning.
Stress can lead to increased autoimmune disease activity and trigger exacerbations of autoimmune diseases or make individuals more prone to acquiring infections that together with genetic factors are believed to be the main etiological factors for autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune diseases are conditions, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes, whereby the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s cells and tissues.
Even daily low-grade prolonged (chronic) emotional stress causes alterations in multiple bodily functions through dysregulation in the release of stress hormones in the brain and body. There is a constant bidirectional interplay between the brain and the immune system.
People who suffer from trauma, aversive childhood experiences, and PTSD and other stress-related psychiatric issues, such as depression, generalized anxiety are at even higher risk for development of autoimmune diseases.
Severe or prolonged emotional stress causes alteration in multiple body functions because of the constant release of stress hormones which causes the brain and body to be under constant Fight-Flight-Freeze response.
The main message to individuals suffering with or exposed to low-grade chronic prolonged stress, and emotional reactions after trauma, or other life stressors is to seek treatment. Prevention can be initiated immediately and can save 20-years of your life. Intervention is also immediately recommended.
Good News: There are now many evidence based proven treatments available ranging from traditional talk psychotherapies to documented effective holistic therapies, and LifeStyle Counseling. The modalities of therapies are often combined and are custom tailored to the unique history, personality, and life circumstances of the individual.
Immune problems can often run in families, and studies to date have not found a clear picture of how much shared parentage or life circumstances might explain the connection between stress and autoimmune disorders.
However, even in the genetic code, therapies have shown clinically significant improvement in the individuals’ quality of life and improvement in the psychological-brain-body-emotion interplay that can not be neglected nor ignored.
Key Point: even long-term low-grade psychological stress can deteriorate multiple bodily systems, including stress hormone levels and the autonomic nervous system resulting in impairment of immune functioning. This can lead to increased autoimmune disease activity and trigger exacerbations of autoimmune diseases or make individuals more prone to acquiring infections that together with genetic factors are believed to be the main etiological factors for autoimmune diseases.