Worrying over a test is normal for any student. However, tests are not the only things students have to worry over. Family matters, money problems, boyfriends or girlfriends, and even the death of a loved one can add stress to an individual. As things keep adding up and the stress level keeps rising, some students may find themselves getting sick. Before the 1970’s there was no reason to believe that stress and the immune system had anything to do with each other.
This relationship which was thought to be “non-existent” would soon be found to be real and affecting millions of people. The subject became so real in the scientific world it was given its own name psychoneuroimmunology. This obnoxiously large word is just a way of stating there are connections between psychological process, the nervous system, and the body’s immune system (507). The field of psychoneuroimmunology put power behind every college student’s excuse of “getting sick from stress of classes”, however this excuse did not generate any less homework.
It was not until a psychologist Robert Ader decided to work with an immunologist named Nicholas Cohen that the stress-sickness relationship became more than a notion. It was thought that immune system was completely separate from any other bodily systems, however “The central nervous system and the immune system are directly linked via sympathetic nervous system fibers, which influence the production of lymphocytes” (507). Plainly, the immune system is affected by the central nervous system which directly deals with stress.
The central nervous system (CNS) deals with stress directly because the brain is located within the CNS. Lymphocytes are the white blood cells in the body that fight pathogens and anything that may harm the individual. If the regulation of white blood cells is not normal, then sickness may occur. Also, studies were conducted where individuals were given a small wound on the roof of their mouth at two separate times, both times with different stress levels. The results concluded that the wound healed quicker when there was less stress. The wounds inflicted before the major test healed an average of 40 percent more slowly-an extra three days-than the wounds inflicted on the same volunteers during the summer vacation. ” (508). Experiments such as this one show that there is in fact a direct influence from the amount of stress on and individual and their immune system. Personally I can confirm this theory. Lately I have had an immense amount of stress that has been adding up and I have gotten sick this week. Last week I was perfectly healthy, and I even have a doctor’s visit to prove it.
I have had bills to pay, many papers to write, a long distance relationship to keep, two jobs to work, being a full time student, and have had parent problems all on my plate. Stressors are events or situations that produce stress, and I have encountered very many within the last few weeks. No one around me has been sick, and I have not come in contact with anyone directly that appears to be sick. I can confirm, however, the more stress I have in my life, the more sick I begin to feel.
In conclusion, there is a strong relationship between added stress and a decreased immune system. The reason it is so strong is because there is a direct link between the central nervous system containing the brain and the production of white blood cells which fight pathogens in the body which cause illness. It does help for a person to stay positive throughout life, and less pessimistic because there will seem to be less stress. Also, college students should not take on more than they truly can, because there health will suffer making everything seem worse than it really is.