Feeling Stressed? It weakens immune system response.

If you are one of those people who consider yourself to be more stressed and are anxious or otherwise psychologically distressed, you may be less able to fight off diseases you have been immunized against.

Recent research studied 60 freshmen undergraduate students who had been vaccinated against meningitis C between 1-16 months before they were enrolled in the study. Based on blood samples, nearly three quarters (73%) of the students had a protective level of antibodies to the disease, while the remaining students had fewer antibodies against the pathogen.

The perception of high stress appears to be more important than whether or not you have actually experienced highly stressful events, the report suggests.

Students who experienced a traumatic or very stressful event such as the death of a loved one were no more likely than other students to exhibit a lessened immune response. But, those who reported high levels of perceived stress were five times more likely to have fewer antibodies, even among students who said they had not actually experienced many highly stressful events. Eight of 10 students in the study reported experiencing only low levels of stressful events. These students had a low level of antibodies in comparison to 65% of students who perceived their life as stressful and had gone through highly stressful events.

It appears to be the perception of stress and poor psychological well-being, rather than the actual stressful events that you experience, which appears to be detrimental to your antibody status following a vaccination. These are your typical stressed-out people and they may be the most likely to have physiological and psychological responses to stress.

Additionally, students who had high levels of psychological stress had a 4x increased risk of having lower antibody levels. This increased risk was especially true for students who were identified as high in anxiety, insomnia, and social dysfunction.

These results indicate that people who are vaccinated during periods of high stress, such as students during final examinations or soldiers about to be sent off to war, should be re-evaluated. This should be done to ensure they have the appropriate level of antibodies in their blood against the diseases they are immunized against. This also would be better than the current medical practice just “jab them and assume they’re okay.”

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