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An explanation of the relationships between Stress and Depression.

Dr. Sheldon Cohen (2007) published a review of the relationship between stress and disease, confirming that stress is a contributing factor to the development and worsening of many chronic diseases, in particular depression, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, and possibly cancer. Social stressors seem to influence depression, and depression is common among those diagnosed with these illnesses. Daily stressors seem to contribute most to cardiovascular disease. In addition, the progression of AIDS has been linked to an increased perception of stress. (Laureate Education, Inc, (2012).

Two factors of stress response that influence the development of depression and explain how

One of the new ways of thinking about depression also includes the immune system in the equation. When an injury or infection happens, the immune system directs inflammatory agents to rush through the blood to the wound. Cytokine (interleukins) signal for help and trigger sickness behaviors (fatigue, appetite changes, reduced motivation, fever). White blood cells arrive to kill any invading bacteria. Red blood cells bring extra oxygen for the healing tissue. Clotting factors arrive in case there is bleeding. The result is swelling and redness that is uncomfortable enough to require rest so the body can heal, further contributing to the sickness behavior those who are depressed exhibit. (Laureate Education, Inc. (2012).

Depression accompanies inflammatory response, which results in higher levels of cytokines in the blood. Stress hormones (like cortisol) tend to be higher in people with depression. Cytokine levels are also influenced by stress. You need tryptophan in your diet to make serotonin, which supports sleep, appetite, and mood, and is one of the brain neurotransmitters that is associated with depression. When the body breaks down tryptophan, some of the remaining chemicals further influence cytokine levels. Again, this refers to the circular nature of depression (Laureate Education, Inc. (2012).

The influence of depression on the immune and inflammatory response. Be specific.

Inflammation as a component of the immune response, if experienced in excess, is another contributor to many chronic diseases. Often, stress causes inflammation in the body, connecting inflammation to chronic disease. For example, those with rheumatoid arthritis experience more flare-ups during stressful times. Herpes virus outbreaks are more common during periods of high stress. Those with chronic fatigue syndrome have lower levels of morning cortisol and deplete their stress responses more quickly. Those experiencing stress may reduce their ability to fight and remove viruses, which in turn may increase vulnerability to other disease processes such as multiple sclerosis (Laureate Education, Inc. (2012).

Stress, depression, and the immune response.

Being stressed or chronically ill can be depressing in itself. Because depression has many different possible contributors, it must be considered holistically. These contributors to depression likely include genetics, resiliency, current internal and external resources, brain neurotransmitters, hormones, diet, environment, and stress. Stressful events are known to be one of the triggers for depression. Stress can also lead to overactivity of the body’s stress-response system. The failure of the body to stop the rush of hormones related to stress is also known to influence depression. If sleep is poor, the immune system does not repair and replenish itself in deep sleep. When individuals are stressed or depressed, they neglect self-care, diet, and exercise, and engage in lifestyle practices (like smoking, drugs, or alcohol) that further contribute to depression. As a result, depression causes even further stress and life crisis. (Laureate Education, Inc. (2012).


Laureate Education, Inc. (2012). Stress, the immune system, Chronic illness, and your body. Unpublished document

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