Stress, Your Immune System and Your Skin
Stress has become the catchall culprit attributed to many maladies today. But, while it may not be the cause of all ailments, it may be the cause of many. To better handle stress, it will be helpful to understand what happens when you experience it, and how stress effects the body.
Not All Stress is Bad
Stress gets a bad rap but can actually be beneficial, depending on the type of stress we are discussing. Here are different types of stress, each with different durations and effects:
Acute stress or stress that occurs in sudden situations and normally lasts just for a short duration is commonly called good stress. Wait, good stress? Yes, some stress is good!
This type of stress encourages us to take quick action or make rapid changes that actually helps protect us. A prime example of acute stress is the stress response that is elicited when we are faced with a dangerous bear attack. The threat of danger triggers our flight-or-flight response, a reaction that has the ability to save our lives.
In our day-to-day lives, short-term stress that lasts for a short period of time is more commonly like the angst leading up to an interview. While you may be temporarily overwhelmed, that feeling will diminish once you land the job.
In these first two types of stress, your body produces cortisol, a stress hormone that actually boosts immunity. It does this by inhibiting inflammation. Once the stressor leaves, so does the cortisol. What happens to the body when it undergoes chronic stress is another story entirely.
Chronic stress is the result of a long-term situation that causes feelings of despair. Common causes of chronic stress include work, illness or chronic pain lasting years where the sufferer feels anxious, depressed and hopeless. Their inability to cope with their condition seems unbearable and ultimately dampens their immunity.
Long-term stress causes the body to produce more and more cortisol, resulting in high levels in the blood. Gradually, the body becomes accustomed to this exposure to high levels of cortisol, and causes systemic inflammation. In addition, this long-term stress reduces the body’s amount of white blood cells (lymphocytes) that fight against infection, leaving the sufferer vulnerable to colds and flus. Left unchecked, stress has the power to impair our immune function and ultimately hasten aging.
Stress Effects on The Skin
That permanent scowl you have been wearing or dull oily skin are telltale, visible symptom of chronic stress. It is no wonder that in our fast-paced multi-tasking world that neuromodulators that artificially relax facial expressions have become commonplace, and advanced skin care product sales are on the rise. The abundance of cortisol triggers more oil production and acne in those who are inclined. If you want smooth, clear skin, you must get a handle on your stress.
Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic March 1, 2017 / Rheumatology & Immunology What Happens When Your Immune System Gets Stressed Out?