Depression and stress have been found to be linked to inflammation.
Stress is involved in the development of chronic disease (Reuben, et al., 2002). The stress coping mechanism varies from person to person. Some individuals tolerate stress in order to complete and/or to perform in tasks eg. Athletic stress in competition to win, or to finish an assignment. Others, experience negative effects to stress that suppress the immune system.
“Stress is defined as a process in which environmental demands strain an organism’s adaptive capacity resulting in both psychological demands as well as biological changes that could place at risk for illness.” (Cohen, et al., 1995)
Daily stressors including arguments, complaints, deadlines, family obligations, and even negative thoughts have been shown to heighten the inflammatory process.
How you cope with negative situations may direct your health outcome.
A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (Duivis et al., 2011) described that negative emotions have been linked with elevated levels of inflammatory markers in blood samples, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and fibrinogen.
“Emerging evidence suggests that indicators of well-being—such as positive affect, purpose in life, and positive social relations—are associated with lower inflammation and less inflammatory reactivity during acute stress tasks. These associations are independent of, and sometimes stronger than, the effects of negative emotions.” (Sin et al., 2014)
A study published in the Brain, Behavior, and Immunity Journal (Sin et al., 2015) examined the effect of positive emotions and on inflammation.
A sample of 969 participants completed a telephone interview about their daily positive experiences over 8 consecutive days, highlighting any “positive interaction, positive experience at work/volunteer position, positive experience at home, network positive event (i.e., positive event experienced by close friend or relative), and any other positive event”. Blood samples of the participants were then collected and analysed for inflammatory markers.
Sin et al. (2015) reported that “daily positive events may be linked to lower inflammation via its role in stress processes.”
The blood results demonstrated significantly lower interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen (inflammatory markers).
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Cohen S, Kessler RC, Gordon LU (1995). Strategies for measuring stress in studies of psychiatric and physical disorders. In: Cohen S, Kessler RC, Gordon LU, editors. Measuring stress: A guide for Health and Social Scientists. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Duivis HE, de Jonge P, Penninx BW, Na BY, Cohen BE, Whooley MA. (2011). Depressive Symptoms, Health Behaviors, and Subsequent Inflammation in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease: Prospective Findings From the Heart and Soul Study. Am J Psychiatry;168(9):913–20.
Reuben DB, Cheh AI, Harris TB, Ferrucci L, Rowe JW, Tracy RP, et al. (2002). Peripheral Blood Markers of Inflammation Predict Mortality and Functional Decline in High-Functioning Community-Dwelling Older Persons. J Am Geriatr Soc;50(4):638–44.
Sin NL, Graham-Engeland JE, Almeida DM. (2015). Daily positive events and inflammation: findings from the National Study of Daily Experiences. Brain Behav Immun; 43:130-8.