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Stress/Depression And The Common Cold
I had to listen to a mix tape of “I don’t have one” and “I just may be dying” today.
There wasn’t an actual tape that I was listening to, but there was a mother claiming that her sniffles were both “nothing” and the “end of the world” over a span of several hours. It was like having a living/breathing Google session in my living room, which was insanely annoying and a reminder that I have NO proper frame of reference for the proper behavior when sick.
Before I go off on my Drill Sergeant tangent, about “sucking it up,” I need to nip that discussion in the bud and freeze dry it for a time when we can examine my deep-seated and overwhelmingly boring childhood issues.
What I really wanted this article to serve as was a discussion about the common cold, and just what can cause the common cold in people who are ridiculously aware of the rules you need to follow in order to avoid getting sick.
For those of you still out there sneezing into the wild blue yonder, without thinking about the rest of the world, the CDC common sense steps to avoid the common cold are;
- Cover your cough by coughing into your elbow.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
- Avoid close contact, or closed quarters, with those who have a cold.
In the last quarter of a century, new ground was broken which drew parallels between stress and the immune system. Researchers recruited testing candidates who suffered from a stressful life, decreased social support mechanisms and poor mood to be given a concoction of cold virus alongside less stressed counterparts. The results illustrated that those participants under stress were far more likely to report symptoms of the common cold than their less stressed counterparts.
What does all of this mean?
I would love to say that this just means my mom is a bit stressed, but the mind-body connection is actually tied to the integrated healthcare. This isn’t the terrifyingly boring “integrated healthcare delivery systems,” but a much more organic idea in which the idea of treating mind and body together are “integrated” and that makes it “integrated healthcare.
What does that mean?
Being saddled with the common cold is NEVER just a matter of being within a five mile radius of the wrong person forgetting to sneeze into their elbow. Psychological stress actually leads to illness by reducing the body’s ability to fight off disease. Your cells react to stress in an effort to return the body to its normal state and, when the body fails to de-stress, the body says “the heck with you” when it comes to producing disease fighting cells.
That means that people who are stressed stand a greater chance of getting sick, and remaining sick longer.
All of this actually information actually made me better understand just why my mom, an avid runner who is very aware of her health, was sitting there whining on the sofa. Mom is the kind of person who really internalizes the bad days in life, particularly the bad day with the co-worker that everyone happens to dislike, and she allows that soul-sucking depression to knock her off her feet. When I consider the fact that she is mulling a resignation, her bout with the common cold (coupled with the whining) is a screaming neon sign stating “it’s time to be mom’s social support organism.”
This may all seem a little bit backward way of discussing the common cold, but the whole ball of wax really is tied to knowledge; psychology and just being able to sit down and talk to people. Take a moment to boost the morale of a friend who may be down, you never know when you’re going to prevent an outbreak of the common cold at home or at work.
Don’t forget to WASH YOUR HANDS!
Posted by: Michelle Germann
Created on: Sat 16 June 2012 00:22
Last modified: Wed 17 October 2012 14:53