Chronic mental stress affects the way your body regulates your anti-inflammatory hormones.
By Dawn Flemming
Chronic mental stress has been strongly associated with the rise of chronic inflammatory responses in the body. Chronic stress has been shown to alter the regulation of inflammation in the body by the immune system.
"Inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol and when cortisol is not allowed to serve this function, inflammation can get out of control," said Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology within Carnegie Mellon University's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
It is argued that stress affects the efficacy of cortisol in regulating inflammation in the body. In other words, the body becomes used to and less sensitive to the regulatory effects of cortisol. As such, it becomes harder to contain inflammation in the body, thus spelling disaster.
When bodies were subjected to regular viruses, the body was eventually desensitized to cortisol and inflammation was able to take over. Stress therefore plays a similar role in the body.
Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.