Stress related illness

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  • Created on: 11-01-13 07:36
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Stress related illness: The immune system
1. Acute stressors ­ examination stress
2. Chronic stressors ­ relationship stress
3. The effects of stress can enhance the immune system
4. Sergestrom and Miller meta-analysis
Acute stressors ­ examination stress:
Kiecolt-Glaser et al (1984):
Natural experiment looking at whether the stress of short-term
stressors in this case important exams had an effect on the immune
system functioning of medical students.
Blood samples were take 1 month before the exam period (low stress) and
during the exam period (high stress)
They looked at the NK cell activity in the blood samples, to measure
immune system functioning
NK cell activity was significantly lower in the period of high stress
suggesting that short-term stressors lower the immune system
functioning making the person more vulnerable to illness
Marucha et al (1998):
Looked at how exam stress had an effect on the rate at which wounds
Inflicted punch biopsy's in the mouth of 2 different conditions, 1 group 3
days before an exam and the other group during the summer holidays
They found the wounds that were given to the people 3 days before and
exam took 40% longer to heal
Chronic stressors ­ relationship stress:
Kiecolt-Glaser et al (2005):
Looked at the impact of interpersonal conflicts on wound healing time
She inflicted blister wounds onto the arms of married couples
She found the healing time was longer after the couple had a conflicting
discussion rather than a supportive discussion
Kiecolt-Glaser et al (1987):
Compared the immune system functioning of women who has separated
from their partner with matched married couples
They found poorer immune functioning in women who had separated from
their partner during the last year
Malarkey et al (1994):
Studied 90 newly-wed couples over a 24 hour period
Couples were asked to resolve typical martial conflicts such as finances
Marital conflict produced higher levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline
which suggests higher stress so therefore poorer immune functioning
The effects of stress can enhance the immune system:
Evans et al (1994):

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Looked at the activity of the antibody slgA which coats mucous of the lungs,
mouth and stomach and helps protect against infection
Arranged for students to give a talk in front of other student, this is mild
but acute stress
Students showed increased levels of slgA during the talk
slgA levels decreased during exam periods which stretch over several
Evans suggested that stress may have 2 effects on the immune system:
o Up-regulation, increased efficiency for short term acute stress
o Down-regulation, decreased efficiency…read more

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People who had high anger ratings were 250% (2.…read more

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They found stressful life events were only associated with depression,
there is no evidence to suggest it causes any of the other disorders…read more


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