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How does stress weaken the immune system?
During stressful events your brain activated its sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your flight or fight responses as such it uses the bodies resources to deal with the stress a consequence of this is that it stops many other processes namely digestion while also increasing your heart rate and hormone production namely cortisol. This all works together to get help fix the issue but also makes the body weaker to things that will make you sick along with stuff like hypertension.
For an extra fun fact this also explains why people with anxiety may get a lot of stomach aches because of the decrease in digestion.
Part of it, at least, is due to stress hormones, namely cortisol. Stress induces cortisol synthesis that essentially works as an immunosuppressant – it inhibits cells of the immune system from launching a full-on immune response. An immune response in itself, while helping us fight disease, is also very stressful and energy-consuming for the body.
That’s why we have stress hormones to give our body a chance to focus on overcoming stress before turning the immune system back on and focusing on fighting the disease. The problem is when stress is present for longer periods of time because during that time, our immune system is suppressed and pathogens can wreak havoc through our bodies. When the stress finally lessens, we often fall ill and the disease is often worse than it would’ve been otherwise because it’s had more type to develop without the immune system fighting back.