Psychoneuroimmunology, Stress and Disease
Stress is considered to be the intervening variable between psychosocial processes and illness. Most retrospectively designed human studies in the area of psychoneuroimmunology link disease with “bad” stressors such as depression, loneliness, and hopelessness. This chapter discusses other clinical implications of psychoneuroimmunology. Some stressors have an adverse effect on the individual while other stressors can even be health- or growth-promoting. Stressful life events and other psychosocial factors may increase the susceptibility to illnesses and mortality. The effect of stress on the etiology of autoimmune disease was supported by the report of G. H. B. Baker et al., that the incidence of stressful life events was increased in the months preceding the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. The interrelationship between psychological factors, immunity and disease is highlighted by findings indicating an association between stressful life events and the pathogenesis of Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid.