The Impact of Stress on the Immune System No ratings yet.

Stress seems to be an integral part modern life. It presses in upon us from everywhere – our jobs, our families, our neighbors, other drivers, the weather – you name it. You may think that these stresses create our attitudes, and they can. But it also works the other way around; our internal attitudes impact of bodies. What you think, feel and believe can determine your health.

The immune system, this complex, sophisticated defender of the human race, is deeply affected by our internal attitudes, emotions and spiritual fortitude.

I define stress as “a deficit of resources needed to resolve a problem.” This is a simple but adequate definition. If you have enough money to pay the rent, there is no stress; when you hear the footsteps of the landlord, however, you have to give him an excuse, anxiety reigns! The lack of resources stresses us.

Good mental health promotes good physical health, according to George Lilans, a Boston psychiatrist. He followed the lives of 200 Harvard graduates for 30 years and studied data from medical examinations and psychological tests. Lilans discovered a clear link between unhappiness and disease or death.

Many of my own patients can point to stressful situations they feel helped to trigger their cancer. But how can you measure the impact our emotions have on the new system? The following is a scale created by Dr. Thomas H. Holmes and Dr. Richard H. Rehi of the University of Washington medical school that measures each stress situation with a point system.

death of a Spouse

100

divorce 

73

separation from a spouse

65

imprisonment

63

death of a family member

63

sickness or accident 

53

marriage 

50

stopping work

47

we conciliation in marriage 

45

retirement procedures 

45

family illness 

44

pregnancy

40

sexual problems

39

a new person in the family

39

personal readjustment

39

financial adjustment

38

that I will friend

37

job change

36

family discussions

35

mortgage of about 25,000

31

that foreclosure

30

heavier responsibilities

29

children leaving home

29

wife starting work

26

beginning or ending classes

26

change of residence

25

change of personal habits

24

problems with the boss

23

change of work hours

20

change of neighborhood

20

change of school

20

change of recreation

19

change of church

19

change of social activities

18

small mortgage

18

change of sleeping habits

16

separation from family

15

change of diet

15

planning a vacation

13

Christmas activities

12

misdemeanors

11

Holmes and his clever collaborators were actually able to predict illness on the basis of this scale. Almost half (49%) of the people who had accumulated 300 points in a 12 month period develop some critical illness, but only 9% of those who accumulated less than 200 points in the same fell ill. This experiment irrefutably establishes the impact that accumulated stress can have on their bodies.

Some people who have a greater capacity for managing stress are less susceptible to falling ill. Additionally, losing one’s job at age 25 is not the same thing as losing it at 50, nor is it the same to end the marriage by common consent as it is to add it in the midst of a heated battle.

Happy, positive events as well as sad, problematic ones can cause stress. Getting married, for example, means joining with a beloved one, it is a happy event. Even so, it implies meditation that requires effort on the part of both parties, so it can be stressful.

Either way, bear in mind that our emotions determine the response of our immune system. Why do some fall ill under stressful situations while others do not? It depends on how we react to the stressors.

Source: Excerpt from the book “The Hope of Living Cancer Free” by Francisco Contreras. 

Please rate this