Firstly, let me define what is stress and thetypes of stress. Stress is “a disruption inone’s psychobiological balance and sense of harmony within oneselfand/or with the social and physical environments.” (Edlin and Golanty, 2010, P46) Stress could also be definedas a stateof mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demandingcircumstances.
There are three types of stress which is Distress,Eustress and Neustress. Distress is a negative form of stress which occurs inreaction to something we perceive as bad. For example, distress negativeemotions are extreme worry, sorrow or pain which would occurs in situationssuch as death, unemployment and conflict in interpersonal relationships.Eustress is a positive form of stress which have a beneficial effect on healthand emotional well-being. In short, it is a beneficial stress. Eustress wouldoccur through some events that happen in our life such as receiving a promotionat work, getting married, having a child and taking a vacation. Lastly,neustress is a neutral stress which we perceived as neither harmful nor helpfuland has no consequential effect.
The main types of immune cells are white bloodcells. There are two types of white blood cells which are lymphocytes andphagocytes. When a person is under a condition of negative stress, his/herimmune system’s ability to fight off antigens would reduce which resultshim/her more susceptible to infections. Forexample, my appetite tends to decrease before the exam period due to my stresson understanding every topic. With the decreasing of my appetite, it leads topoor nutrition and lack of nutritional energy which is used to support immunefunctioning and the function of the entire body.
Therefore, stress weakens my immunesystem. This is because stress can causean increase in corticosteroid which is a typeof stress hormone that can supress the effectiveness of the immune system suchas lowers the number of lymphocytes. Negative stress can also have an indirect effecton the immune system if a person uses unhealthy behavioural coping strategiessuch as consumption of excess alcohol, smoking and poor diet to reduce theirstress. Another example of stress happenedis when I have financial problems with high level of debt. High level of debtis due to phone bills, provide money for family as well as family expenses.Therefore, I would need to work after school, weekends and holiday period tocover my daily expenses as well as family expenses. This causes me to have insufficientsleep which leads my cells in my blood that fight infections are not working tokeep infections at bay thus leading me often getting sick easily.
In addition,heavy workload and debt also caused me to have lots of negative emotions appearsuch as depression, frustration and anxiety. When I am having these negativeemotions, I would be unable to have relax myself therefore my stress increasescausing my immune system to weaken. Before elaborating on how the immune systemresponds to stress, I would firstly define what is immune system and how is itbuild up. Immune system is our body’s defense against infectious organisms andother invaders. Through a series of steps which is called the immune response,the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade body systems andcause disease. It is made up of a net of cells, tissues and organs.
These worktogether to protect our body. Fight or flight response is our body’s response to perceived threat ordanger. Certain hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol are released when this fightor flight response occur. This lead to some physical signs such as rapid heartbeatand breathing, pale or flushed skin and trembling which indicates the fight orflight response occur. Firstly, rapid heartbeat andbreathing occurs when our body increase heartbeat and respiration rate. This increaseis to provide energy and oxygen to our body which would be a need to fuel arapid response to the danger. Secondly, pale or flushed skin occur when thestress response starts to take hold. This leads the blood flow to the surface areas of the body reduced and bloodflow to the muscles, brain, legs and arms increased.
In addition, our body’sblood clotting ability would also increase which helps to prevent excess bloodloss when injury happens. Lastly, trembling occurs when someone faced stressor danger. This causes a person muscles to become tense and ready for action. In addition, chronic stress would lead fight or flight response occur. Post-TraumaticStress Disorder (PTSD) is a form of chronic stress.
Post-Traumatic StressDisorder (PTSD) occur when a person experiences traumatic life event such asaccident or natural disaster. For example, James had a bad car accident at theage of 10 which leads him to suffer from PTSD. James that suffer from PTSD maybe stuck in chronic stress mode because their mind always believe that thethreat is still present. Therefore, his body bombarded with the hormones thatassociate with fight or flight response causing both physically and mentallydraining. In conclusion, stress would slow down the immune response and lengthenhealing duration.
High stress levels would reduce our immune system and it’sability to defend our body from diseases.