Stress and Inflammation: When stress is consistent, it is a detriment to our health and well-being.
Prolonged stress leads to hyper physiological levels of cortisol. This alters the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate both the inflammatory and immune response because it decreases tissue sensitivity to cortisol (Segerstrom, 2006).
As the human body heals, inflammation becomes a response to stress. Like stress, inflammation is beneficial, although when stress becomes chronic, it can lead to constant tissue breakdown and impairment of the immune system.
A stressed person's immune cells become less sensitive to cortisol. They're unable to regulate the inflammatory response, and therefore, when they're exposed to a virus, they're more likely to develop a cold (Cohen, 2004).
The way stress impacts the immune system can be assessed numerous ways.
• Measurements of inflammatory markers, including cytokines, a group of chemical messengers which affect the behaviour of immune cells.
• The response by the immune system itself, including activation and advancement of disease.
• Assessing the subject’s inability to cope with stressors, such as negative mood associated with general stress, anxiety and depression, and types of life events that take place near the time of stressor (Glaser, 2005).
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