Meds, Mind, Body & Benefits > Mental Health & HIV

Mental Stress, Depression, and the Immune System?

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JamieD:
I was just wondering, and maybe someone can help.

What effects do chronic stress and/or depression have on the immune system?

I saw something on AIDSMAP a long time ago, like a year ago, it was a study on women with HIV. Its results showed that women with depression and untreated HIV infection lost CD4 cells faster then other untreated women who were not depressed.

pozattitude:
stress is bad on the immune system for anyone, not just us POZ. 
depression is just horrible and I think that the relation between depression and the immune systems stands from the point that if you depressed you tend to stop taking care of yourself (not eating, sleeping, etc...) and eventually your heath suffers.

DanielMark:
"What effects do chronic stress and/or depression have on the immune system?"

Jamie,

Let me see if I can offer anything of value here.

Effects of Stress on the Immune System

Internal factors such as stress have been implicated in causing a deficient immune system because of the nature of the body's response in dealing with this problem. The capabilities of the immune system are diminished after frequent activation of the autonomic nervous system in the case of chronic stresses. The immune system is downgraded to be able to continuously functioning...

Perceived mood also seems to play a role in immune system effectiveness. Having a positive attitude seems to correlate with an increased ability of the immune system in fighting diseases. In cases where patients have exhibited fear before a surgery, they have had a longer healing time afterwards. Correlations were observed in the number of lymphocyte cells and the person's level of optimism.

from: http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/beaton.html

And also,

Major depression can be a dangerous disorder. You may neglect to take necessary medication for HIV or skip doctorís appointments. You may take risks sexually that would be unacceptable to you in a non-depressed period of time. At its worst, it can lead to suicide.

What other problems might I notice if Iím depressed?

Criticizing, attacking, and berating yourself
Skipping days of work or not going to work
Inability to study or pursue serious intellectual or artistic interests
Loss of interest in sex
Avoiding friends or usual social activities, hobbies, or recreations
Inability to enjoy activities or events in which you normally take pleasure
Neglecting yourself physically (in terms of grooming and hygiene)
Forgetfulness
Crying a lot or feel like crying without knowing why
Feeling irritable and getting into arguments easily
Increased and excessive use of alcohol or other recreational drugs

from: http://www.projinf.org/fs/depression.html

If more than one of the above indicators apply to you, I would urge you to seek out professional psychotherapeutic help ASAP. Nearly 19 years after my diagnosis I can tell you that life can still be good, if you let it be. But you've got to want it. Suffering is optional.



Daniel

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