The Effects of Stress on Immunity

Key Points Stress has a significant impact on immunityJob stress and burnout are implicated in reducing immunityParticularly the amount of reward you receive for your efforts is a major factor in how stressed you become and the impact of this on immunityMeditation & mindfulness, and exercise reduce stress and improve immunity Stress has an undeniable and large effect on health and is a less commonly discussed, but extremely important part of encouraging the greatest human resilience and resistance to infections. A systematic review of 56 studies showed that stress had a significant impact on measures of immunity (reduced natural killer cell activity, NK and T cell subsets, CD4+/CD8+ ratio, and increased inflammatory markers). Stress has a significant impact on measures of immunity In particular, the following psychosocial factors of stress were implicated1: Job-stressLow job controlHigh job strainJob dissatisfactionHigh effort and low reward work OvercommittingBurnoutUnemploymentOrganizational downsizingEconomic recession The effort-reward imbalance, in other words, the reward you receive in comparison to the effort required at work, is particularly associated with much higher stress levels, with a demonstrable effect on immunity. Overcommitment or overwork are also associated with reduced immunity. For example, caregivers of dementia patients suffer poorer immune responses and this is considered to be as a result of the demands of their workplace stress,2 but a lower reward-to-effort ratio results in a greater reduction in immunity than over-commitment.3 A lower reward-to-effort ratio results in a greater reduction in immunity than over-commitment Prenatal stress is also reported to increase the risk of…