Can stress damage your immune system?

Posted on 10.22.2020 |

Develop a better understanding of how stress acts in your body—and how it affects your health

Stress: it’s a concept that most Americans are quite familiar with, and one that some of us may experience almost constantly throughout the day. 

In fact, Americans are among the most stressed-out populations in the world! 55% of Americans say they’re stressed during the day—that’s 20% higher than the world average of 35%. [1] 

Most people are aware that constant stress is bad for your health, but did you know that stress can actually damage your immune system? 

Keep reading to learn more about the important relationship between stress and your immune system.


stress and the immune system - while and red blood cells and antibodies
White and red blood cells and antibodies

How does the immune system work?

In order to fully grasp how stress and the immune system are related, it’s vital to understand how your immune system works.

At its most basic level, your immune system is a collection of billions of cells that travel through your bloodstream. They move in and out of your organs and tissues to defend your body against harmful antigens such as bacteria, viruses, and cancerous cells. 

The main type of immune cells are white blood cells, which come in two forms: lymphocytes and phagocytes. Both types of cells work to mediate immune responses in the body. Lymphocytes generate specific immune responses against specific pathogens, while phagocytes produce the same response to any pathogen. 

Lymphocytes are your body’s tool of adaptive immunity and come in the form of B cells and T cells. B cells produce antibodies that are released into the fluid around the body’s cells to destroy the invading antigens. If the antigen makes it into the cell, T cells lock on to the infected cell to multiply and destroy it.


Stress and the immune system

When you experience stress, your body produces greater levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In short bursts, cortisol can boost your immunity by limiting inflammation. But when cortisol is released, it also decreases white blood cells, increases tumor development and growth, and increases the rate of infection and tissue damage. [2]

If you experience prolonged stress, the high levels of cortisol in your body can be detrimental in decreasing your body’s ability to fight off harmful antigens—making you more susceptible to infection. 


The effects of stress on your immune system

Prolonged stress can truly wreak havoc on your overall health in a myriad of ways. Medical research estimates that as much as 90% of illness and disease is tied to stress as its root cause! [3]

In addition to limiting your body’s ability to fight off infection, stress is linked to increased risk for hypertension and heart disease, digestive issues, and depression and anxiety. 

The effects of stress are cumulative, so it’s important to find methods to reduce the stress in your daily life in order to improve and maintain your health. Meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, and positive thinking have all been found to be effective in lowering stress levels in adults. 


Read more:

5 proven ways to reduce stress and think more clearly


The takeaway

Stress and the immune system will always be tied to one another. Your immune system is vital in fending off harmful viruses and diseases from attacking your body. Stress prevents your immune system from working properly, and prolonged stress will cause detrimental damage to your body in a number of ways.

Therefore, it’s key for you to find ways to manage the stress in your daily life to keep your body as healthy as possible for as long as possible. 


Need help managing your stress?

We are here to help! Our mission at Natural Quanta is to give you the tools and support you need to analyze and optimize all aspects of your health.

We provide our members with a trusted suite of innovative health technologies that can be utilized to lower stress levels through systems such as BrainTap—an Audio-Visual Brain Entrainment device that induces deep relaxation or a meditative-like state.


Contact us today to get started!


1: Gallup

2: Psychology Today

3: National Agricultural Safety Database