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Stress, Immune Dysfunction, and Health

A growing body of literature has shown that chronic psychological stress can lead to immune dysregulation. Chronic stress has been associated with a state of chronic low-grade inflammation, delayed wound healing, poor responses to vaccines, and increased susceptibility to infectious illnesses. Activation of the neuroendocrine and sympathetic systems provides physiological pathways linking stress and these immune outcomes. Behavioral changes under conditions of chronic stress also contribute to immune dysregulation. Behavioral and pharmacological interventions may attenuate stress-induced immune dysregulation.

Definition of Stress

Stress occurs when environmental demands solicit or exceed the individual's capacity to cope. Acute stress and chronic stress have different physiological consequences. Acute or intermittent stress (e.g., bouts of exercise) can transiently enhance immune responses, leading to more efficient responses to certain challenges (e.g., vaccines). In ...

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