It might not surprise you to learn that chronic stress isn’t healthy.
But did you know it can have specific consequences such as an increased
risk of heart disease, weight gain, and digestive disorders? In fact,
being stressed out frequently can even result in a greater tendency to
contract infections because the immune system isn’t working as well
as it should be. At
Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center, we encourage families in Thousand Oaks to take advantage of our preventive
What the Research Suggests
For years, clinicians have been documenting the many negative effects
of chronic stress on physical health. Some of the early research performed
by two pioneers in the field focused on the
chronic stress of medical students. For a decade, the researchers evaluated the immune function and stress
levels of the students. They noted that during the three-day period of
exams, the students had remarkably lower immune function. Specifically,
they had reduced levels of natural killer cells, which are responsible
for combating infection and tumors. The study participants also had weaker
T-cells and their production of gamma interferon had nearly ceased entirely.
Since that study was released, many others have been performed that suggest
a causal relationship between chronic stress and long-term depression
on poor immune health.
How Stress Causes Indirect Consequences
Stress doesn’t only result in lowered immune function; it can also
have other indirect consequences on health. When a person is under stress,
he or she may be less likely to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly,
and get enough sleep—all of which are also crucial for supporting
immune function and other areas of health. Some people under chronic stress
might also turn to cigarettes, alcohol, or other substances of abuse.
How You Can Improve Your Stress Response
It isn’t always easy to manage stress, but with practice, you can
learn to adjust your stress response. Exercise is an effective way to
blow off steam for short-term stress management and improve wellness for
long-term benefits. Yoga and tai chi, which are forms of moving meditation,
have been shown to be particularly helpful. If you have trouble managing
your stress by yourself, consider speaking with a mental health counselor.
Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center is your source for high-quality
preventive medicine to sophisticated diagnostics to minimally invasive interventions. Our
hospital is dedicated to helping patients live life well. To request a
referral to a doctor in Thousand Oaks, call our Consult-A-Nurse line at