Outline and Evaluate Research Into Stress and the Immune System

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Outline and Evaluate research into stress and the immune system The immune system is made up of cells and chemicals that seek and destroy bacteria and viruses. When someone is experiencing a stressful situation, all the body's resources are diverted and this suppresses the immune system by stopping the production of white blood cells-lymphocytes.The immune system can fail us in two ways-either by becoming under-vigilant, letting infections enter the body, or over-vigilant. Over a long period of time, (a long-term stress response), the person's immune system stops functioning properly and is left open to infection. Long-Term stress can affect the cardiovascular system. Short-term stress involves the suppression of the immune system, known as immunosuppression- as part of the need to divert all resources into coping with the emergency. Selye (1956) developed a model called the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) which explained the short-term effects of exposure to stressors. He proposed that all stressors cause the same biological response in all animals and humans. The GAS has 3 stages. In the first Alarm stage, the presence of a stressful event is registered. This can be a threat from outside or a physical stressor, such as injury or illness affecting the body. Adrenaline is released and the heart rate goes up. Muscle tension, blood sugar and the pain threshold increases. In the second stage of Resistance, the body’s stress response is fully activated and is apparently coping with the stressor. However, resources are still being used up faster than they are being restored and so a person may remain irritable and “on edge”. However, if the stressor is long lasting, the body enters the third stage of Exhaustion. Selye felt that hormone reserves were depleted and it is at this point that stress-related conditions such as ulcers, depression and anxiety may develop as
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