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The Psychological Factors Affecting Medical Conditions

By Sky Smith ; Updated August 14, 2017

Psychological factors can influence physical health either indirectly, by changing behaviors that affect your health, such as eating, sleeping and socializing, or directly, by producing changes in your hormones and/or heart rate. Additionally, the mind can interact with the benefits of a medicine, reducing the effectiveness of a certain drug or worsening the negative symptoms associated with certain medical conditions. Therefore, you should monitor your thoughts towards your health and psychological well-being when coping with any medical condition.

Stress

Stress can be caused by long-term problems, daily hassles, life changes or traumatic events and can induce physical, emotional or cognitive responses, including a distortion in your world view, an inability to concentrate and a decrease in memory. Stress may also reduce the efficiency of the immune system, thereby increasing susceptibility to disease via the reduction of white blood cells that fight disease-causing bacteria.

Moreover, research at Salisbury University suggests that the repeated release of stress hormones produces hyperactivity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system and disrupts normal levels of the brain chemical serotonin, responsible for feelings of well-being. In other words, stress may not only weaken your immune system; it can take away from the sensation of feeling good and exacerbate the negative effects of an illness.

Depression

As a common risk factor for heart disease, depression can complicate recovery from a heart attack by altering how the heart and the circulatory system function. In fact, depression can wear down the heart and speed up the disease process. In addition, poor lifestyle habits related to depression, such as social isolation, a lack of exercise and excessive alcohol or other drug abuse, can harm your health system. Therefore, avoid depression by staying active or seeing a doctor as it can make the recovery from certain medical conditions increasingly difficult or even impossible.

Insomnia

According to experts, anxiety, depression and stress play interacting roles in the causes of insomnia, which can severely impair the body's healing processes. In fact, a 2007 research study reported by Harvard University examined the relationship between sleep and cellular immune function and found that people who fail to achieve adequate sleep--about six to eight hours--significantly altered their immune system similar to people who suffer from certain disease patterns, such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV infection. In essence, good cellular immunity and health results from adequate amounts of sleep and control over other psychological factors, such as stress, depression and general well-being.

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