The Inter-Relationship between Stress and the Human Immune System upon Health Outcomes

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The Inter-Relationship between Stress and the Human Immune System upon Health Outcomes

The impact of stress on human immune system functioning and health outcomes is an area of recent interest. This investigation as to how health outcomes are affected by this inter-relationship will firstly operationalise all of the variables (health, stress, immune system); and secondly, by describing the functions and reactions of the immune system to clinically induced stressors, establish that there is a correlation between stress and immune response. The final area of investigation will discuss how the human body, when exposed to a variety of stressors, causes major changes within the immune system (which can be scientifically measured), and
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There are two main categories of stress: acute and chronic. Acute (or external) stressors include films, work overload, unexpected or uncontrollable noise, prestige or status loss, electric shock, uncontrollable situations, physical illness, surgery, threats to self-esteem, and traumatic experiences. Examples of chronic stressors include sleep deprivation, role strain and social isolation (Elliott and Eisdorfer, 1982). Chronic stress within an individual is often associated with negativity, and the observable physical manifestations include exhaustion, disease and even death (Rice, 1999). Individual differences in responding to stress are influenced by genetics, developmental and environmental influences, as well as being linked with one's own life experiences (McEwen and Stellar, 1993). However, stress does cause some common changes. Emotionally, stress can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and anger (McEwen et al, 1993). Accordingly, on the basis of the above criteria, it is clear that stress has a direct correlation on health outcomes. In order to assess the interaction between stress, the immune system and health outcomes it is necessary to operationalise the contextual meaning associated with health in this instance. Stedman's medical dictionary (1961) defines disease as "an interruption or perversion of function of any of the organs and/or tissues or an

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