Stress from childhood trauma affects our immune system. It alters our natural homeostasis. Consequently, hypothalamic hormones such as vasopressin come into action. The tangible impact of continued stress can be immense, not only for our psychological balance: health will also be affected.
We all have more or less an idea of what stress is. We have felt it at some point in our life. We have read about it on occasion and we have friends and family who suffer it. Now, it should be said that this dimension is very subjective.
Not everyone is stressed by the same things. It will depend on the way we perceive the situation, beliefs, and coping resources we have available. Although certain circumstances are really stressful for almost anyone (job loss, grief, divorce, childhood trauma, etc.)
Thus, stress can be defined as the body’s adaptation response to the environment in which it is found. The situation demands a series of resources adapt to it and that will generate the stress response in our body.
Stress and the immune system
Stress helps us adapt to changes, but when it is excessive and continuous, it can predispose the appearance of certain diseases, from a cold, inflammations, to allergies. The immune system is also affected.
Now, how does this relationship between mind-body occur?
Cortisol and the immune response
First, the brain interprets an outside situation such as adverse childhood experiences (for example) as stressful. Then, the hypothalamus, brain structure responsible for coordinating survival-related behaviors, sends electrical signals to the pituitary gland. In turn, it sends the ACTH hormone to the adrenal glands where cortisol and adrenaline are released.
High levels of cortisol in the blood cause a series of changes in leukocytes, responsible for fighting against potential diseases.
On the other hand, cortisol can stop the production and action of cytokines, responsible for initiating the immune response.
Cortisol also helps initiate flight behaviors in a dangerous situation. However, adrenaline is responsible for the alert response, generates energy in case it is necessary to escape or fight, and increases the heart rate.
Thus, studies such as that carried out at the Ohio State University indicate that our emotions have a direct relationship with the physiological processes and the immune response.
The mind-body connection
As you can see, the mind-body connection is clear. The perceived stress activates the nervous system. As a result, it influences the immune system through the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Immune system cells have receptors for these hormones, which implies modulation of the immune system.
Despite the relationship between the nervous system, the endocrine, and the immune system, personality also plays an essential role in the alteration of the immune system.
Do you take care of your stress? Well, you should. Keynote speaker for childhood trauma Derek Clark, was once in a constant state of fear for his childhood trauma. He is now one of the top motivational speakers on social emotional learning, adverse childhood experiences and trauma informed care. If you are planning a childhood trauma conference or training, reserve Derek to make it the most inspiring and informative event yet.