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Being Stressed at Work: Bad for your Health!

By on Apr 18, 2012

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Stress is often thought to be responsible for many illnesses and health conditions. A recent study has shown that long term stress disrupts the immune system and increases the chances of developing colds and being generally run down. In recent years many people are often becoming stressed at work.

Being run down is a very common complaint in modern society. This is highlighted by the popularity of stimulant vitamins and energy drinks. Long working hours, erratic eating habits and excessive alcohol consumption all contribute to a compromised immune system.

The study was carried out in the U.S, where scientists questioned 176 men and women about difficult experiences they had in the past year. The volunteers then had drops of the common cold virus dripped into their nose to check if they caught the germ. The people who had been under stress were twice as likely to develop a cold.

This study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the immune systems had become less sensitive to cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal gland which causes an imbalance in the body, and suppresses the immune system. This causes an increase in the inflammatory response.

Being Stressed at Work: Bad for your Health!  The inflammatory response occurs at a sign of injury or trauma. It is the body’s natural response and involves a rush of white blood cells to the site of trauma. This shows up as redness, itchiness,inflammation and pain at the site. This is an essential first step at warding off disease. However, problems can arise when this inflammatory response persists.

Professor Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania said, “When under stress, cells of the immune system are unable to respond to hormonal control and consequently, produce levels of inflammation that promote disease”. Inflammation is linked to various diseases and illnesses, such as heart disease, asthma, arthritis and autoimmune diseases.

This leads to the question, how to cope with stress? There are many ways of managing stress, which will be discussed in another article…

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