Negative emotions-New research has uncovered advanced evidence indicating that repeated exposure to negative emotions may have an important effect on the functioning of the immune system.
Studies have shown that chronic exposure to stress, anxiety, negative mood, tension, and fear, in general, can affect physical health to a large extent.
And as Medical News Today reported last year, chronic stress has a negative effect on memory.
Also, these previously mentioned feelings increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease such as stroke.
Now a study in the United States has found that a negative mood may alter the way the immune response works and are linked to an increased risk of inflammation in the body.
Negative mood and inflammation
Scientists collected data for the study and used questionnaires in which research participants were asked to record their feelings in the current time and overtime. These evaluations were conducted for two weeks, which allowed the team of scientists to map the emotional files of the participants.
They also assessed the volunteers’ immune response during this period by collecting blood samples and looking for markers of inflammation. Inflammation usually occurs naturally in the body as part of the immune response when a person is exposed to wounds or infections. However, high levels of inflammation are linked to poor health and a host of chronic conditions such as arthritis.
The team of scientists noticed that individuals who experienced negative moods multiple times a day for long periods of time tended to have higher levels of biomarkers of inflammation in their blood. The scientists also noted that if they collected blood samples from the participants shortly after they had experienced negative emotions such as sadness or anger, vital signs of inflammation were present in the blood.
Experiencing good and positive mood, even for a short period, before blood samples were collected was associated with a decrease in the level of inflammation.
Scientists are confident that their study adds crucial evidence regarding the effect of bad moods on health.
They hope that these studies and the like will allow professionals to come up with better strategies for improving mood and thus protecting aspects of physical health.
How anxiety weakens the immune system?
While anxiety alone cannot cause us to catch the influenza virus or other viruses, it impairs the immune system’s ability to respond to bacterial or viral invasion, making the body more vulnerable to infection. Recovery may also be slower as the immune system is suppressed in favor of dealing with anxiety or stress.
The body’s stress response system is specific. Once the threat is over, adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.
When the pressure remains constant, the “fight” or “escape” reaction remains on, exposing the body to cortisol and other hormones.
The cells of the immune system are unable to respond in this condition naturally, which leads to levels of inflammation and increases the risk of health problems.
Stress or psychological stress has an indirect effect on the immune system, so that a person tends to resort to unhealthy coping strategies such as smoking or drinking alcohol and caffeine, eating a lot of sugar and processed foods, not sleeping properly, etc.