I need help with a brief explanation of the impact of stress on the immune system by describing one element of the immune system and explaining the repercussions of stress on that element. Also, what is one stress-reducing behavioral intervention for that element of the immune system and why it might be effective. (See Attached)
The Body's Micro-Response to Stress
Consider the following sympathetic nervous system responses that occur upon assessment of an encounter with a saber-toothed tiger:
- The cerebral cortex (the reticular formation), and the hippocampus and amygdala of the limbic system (parts of the brain that deal with emotion) are all involved in processing the experience. The threatening incoming stimuli will trigger the hypothalamus to produce corticotrophin releasing hormone and arginine vasopressin. These products are transported to the nearby pituitary gland and stimulate the pituitary to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and thyrotropic hormone into the bloodstream.
- The heart speeds up and accelerated breathing increases oxygen levels to the limbs and areas of the brain that result in improved problem-solving instincts and movement.
- Pupils dilate and peripheral vision is improved. You become hypervigilant and watchful for other tigers (future threat) or opportunities for escape.
- Vasodilatation of the blood vessels to the skeletal muscles increases oxygen and nutrients, decreases sensitivity to pain, and enhances physical strength and speed, allowing you to focus outward away from your body.
- Vasoconstriction of blood vessels to the digestive system stops, resulting in a whoop sensation in your belly as it shuts down. The body does not need to digest food right now; there is a saber-toothed tiger in the room. This peristaltic process and absorption of nutrients sends energy instead to organs that are more vital.
- Blood pressure increases putting pressure on the cardiac system. Sphincters are constricted. Perspiration increases to prevent the body from overheating due to the biological stress responses occurring. Perspiration also allows increased ability to escape as a result of the skin's slipperiness. The numbers of platelets in the blood increase in preparation for immediate clotting of an injury in case the tiger scratches.
- The normal activity of the immune system decreases, saving energy but increasing susceptibility to disease. The thyroid responds to the thyrotropic hormone and secretes thyroxine into the bloodstream, which in turn speeds up metabolism and energy consumption and enhances response.
- The adrenal cortex of the kidneys responds to the ACTH by spilling cortisol (the primary hormone of stress) into the bloodstream. Any perceived stress��"including trauma, infection, or rapid temperature change��"is followed by an increase in serum cortisol that may last minutes or hours. The sympathetic adrenal medullary (SAM) system is one pathway of stress response.
- The kidneys release epinephrine and norepinephrine (both catecholamine hormones) into the bloodstream. Then the liver responds to epinephrine by converting stores of glycogen into glucose and spilling that sugar into the bloodstream, ensuring a source of energy.
- Fats and proteins are released into the bloodstream for more energy and influence cardiac health.
- Adrenaline also increases carbohydrate metabolism, dilates the arteries, accelerates heart rate, increases blood pressure and flow, and increases oxygen exchange in the lungs. Mineral corticoids, such as aldosterone, are released by the adrenal cortex and alter heat and water metabolism in the kidneys.
- The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenalcortical (HPAC) axis is another pathway of response. The cognitive processing of the stressor influences both pathways. The hormonal response to stress is mediated through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Stress results in the secretion of a cascade of glucocorticoids. The hormonal response is slower than the sympathetic response and may continue for several days after the initial response because of the long-lasting effects of the glucocorticoids. Chronic stress may result in inappropriate HPA axis activation with prolonged release of the hormones of stress.
Consider how the miraculous functioning of the body allows all of these processes to happen instantly and seamlessly in an effort to help you escape a saber-toothed tiger when every second counts.
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a relatively new field of scientific practice that involves ?the interactions among behavior, neural and endocrine function, and immune processes? (Freeman, 2009, p. 61). Segerstrom (2010, p. 114) defines PNI as ?the study of interrelationships among the mind, nervous system and immune system.? Practitioners of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have believed in the mind-body connection for thousands of years; although Western scholars and practitioners once believed that the body and the mind operated separately, that belief no longer holds true. The science of PNI addresses the physiologic and immunologic conditioned responses to stress and other factors.
Stress and Upper Respiratory Infections
The possible link between psychological stress and upper respiratory infections (URI) has been the topic of multiple research studies, and Pedersen, Zachariae, and Bovbierg (2010) ...
This solution provides examples of what the impact of stress is on the immune system and what treatments might be effective.