Stress Related Illness and the Immune System.


Immune system = a complex interaction of a range of physical processes. It protects the body from 'foreign invaders' (illness).

B Cells - protect healthy cells (think bodyguard)                                                                                    T Cells - destroy unhealthy cells (think terminators)

When cortisol is released, it starts to affect your immune system

Cortisol damages T cells and slows down the production of B cells.

So, when the body releases cortisol  in it's responsse to stress, it's actually damaging the immune system. This is why when you are stressed, many people become ill - their immune system has been surpressed by the cortisol and isn't working as well as it should; therefore you are more likely to pick up an illness/be less likely to fight off infection.

RILEY - Experiment using mice. To create stress in the mice, he put them on a turn table rotating at 45rpm and then measured their lymphocyte count over a 5 hour period and found a marked decrease. This proves that stress suppresses the immune system.


Aim - to demonstrate the direct effects of stress on the immune system by looking at how quickly wounds heal.

Procedure: A matched pairs experiment was used. Participants were recruited using advertisements in newspapers (VOLUNTEER SAMPLE). 13 woment aged 47-82 years were warers and placed in the experimental group. A further 13 were matched with carers on the basis of age and…


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