Today’s population is becoming more health conscious, and as a result, they are making an effort to maintain regular exercise routines and consume a balanced diet. This would undoubtedly preserve their physical health, but often, a crucial component of health is overlooked: mental wellness.
Your physical and psychological well-being are equally vital, friends. It’s so crucial that it can affect essential functions, such as immunological responses and disease defense. Let’s have a deeper understanding of how immunity and mental well-being are related. In this article, we’ll look at some surprising ways your mental health can impact your disease-fighting ability. Keep reading the blog to know!
What’s mental health?
Is mental health the mere absence of any diagnosable mental illness? Nope! According to WHO, mental well-being refers to “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to his or her community.”
Emotional, psychological, and social well-being all fall under the mental health category. It influences our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It also affects how we interact with people, manage stress, and make decisions. From childhood and youth to adulthood and old age, mental health is crucial at every stage of life.
A brief about mental stress
The circumstance of physical and psychological dangers or threats can cause the body to experience stress. Stress is a significant threat to mental health. The renowned endocrinologist Hans Selye came up with the concept of stress as a syndrome of general adaptation.
Patients under stress have been reported to show constant behavioral abnormalities, such as low mood and difficulty sleeping, as well as dysregulations of the neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous systems. Up to 75% of all visits to doctors’ clinics are thought to be stress-related.
Modern lifestyle includes elevated stress levels. Other immune-based disorders like cancer, HIV disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, and even immunological aging are thought to be affected by stress in terms of morbidity and mortality. Let’s look at how mental stress can crush your immunity and health. Effects of mental stress on various health aspects are discussed below.
1. Immune response
Immunity is an organism’s innate or acquired ability to resist bacterial and viral pathogens, ailments, or infection while still having enough tolerance to prevent allergies and autoimmune diseases. The primary immune system cells are lymphocytes, which include T and B cells. T cells direct the immune response by producing cytokines, causing B cells to create antibodies, and sending signals to killer cells to kill antigen-displaying cells.
Mental health and immunity are interlinked; the worsening of one causes aggravation of the other. Chronic stress can affect the balance of cytokines and inhibit or hinder innate and adaptive immune responses, leading to low-grade inflammation and the deactivation of immunological-protective cells. Also, stress causes the production of cytokines which causes changes in mood and depression.
Stress can alter how the body responds to infections on a cellular and humoral level, which raises the chance of contracting infectious diseases like the flu and the common cold. Furthermore, research in adults and adolescents has demonstrated that unfavorable emotions, such as anxiousness and depression, might alter the antibody and T-cell responses to antiviral vaccines, leading to decreased immune responses.
According to studies on both humans and animals, stress can down-regulate some T-cell responses to the latent virus to the point where it is reactivated. It affects how HIV-related diseases develop as well. Subjects suffering from depression and other mental health issues are more prone to infections than those in the demographic area due to subdued immune responses.
3. Wound healing
When recovering from an injury or surgery, wound healing is a crucial process. Wound infections and other problems are more likely to occur when the healing process is poor. Inflammation, proliferation, and regeneration are three phases that follow one another in the healing process of a wound. Healing needs inflammation to take place.
By promoting the activation and proliferation of phagocytes, proinflammatory cytokines assist in preventing infection and gearing up for the healing of damaged tissue. Stress, sadly, impairs the ability of proinflammatory cytokines to be produced, which is crucial for wound healing and, when dysregulated, causes a significant delay in wound healing.
4. Cardiovascular health
One of the main contributors to developing thrombotic problems in atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular disorders is chronic low-grade inflammation brought on by stress. Chronic stress and other psychosocial factors have been firmly related to the rise in coronary artery disease. According to the shreds of evidence, childhood adversity, especially severe physical and sexual abuse, increases the risk of cardiovascular events, especially in women.
The known correlation between stress, immune changes, and cardiovascular disease may be explained by the fact that stress can lead to chronic increases in sympathetic nervous system activity, which include elevated blood pressure, heart rate, catecholamine secretion, and platelet aggregation.
The biological impacts of mental stress are not isolated and are frequently made worse by bad habits, including smoking, abusing tobacco, eating poorly, and not exercising enough. Additionally, people who experience occupational stressors like long shifts, conflict at work, etc., are more likely to experience elevated levels of serum CRP and IL-6, two crucial indicators for cardiovascular illnesses.
Also Read: Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy
5. Diabetes mellitus
Deficiencies in insulin secretion and action cause type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), a chronic metabolic disease. Chronic stress is the most common cause of insulin resistance. Also, it has been determined that early stress exposure increases the chance of developing diabetes and obesity. Low birth weight has been linked to fetal exposure to high maternal glucocorticoids (stress hormones), which has increased the risk for adult hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and cardiometabolic illnesses.
Also Read: 5 Natural Ways To Manage Blood Sugar
Risk factors for developing tumors include psychosocial elements like stress, depression, and a lack of social support. Chronic stress has significantly accelerated the growth and spread of tumors in animals with cancer. Chronic stress can change protective immunological responses, exacerbate inflammation, and make people more susceptible to specific cancers by lowering type 1 cytokines and protective T cells. Chronic stress can alter the anti-tumor immune mechanism to a tumor-producing immunity mechanism.
See? Mental conditions can take a toll on our overall well-being if ignored. According to recent research, these are just the significant adversities of ill mental health; there are many more. How do you take care of your mental health and immunity? Comment below and let us know!