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Stress and Autoimmune Disease – How it Affects Your Symptoms

Stress and Autoimmune Disease – How it Affects Your Symptoms

Autoimmune conditions and symptoms are caused by the immune system’s erroneous response to inflammation by attacking the body’s own otherwise healthy tissues.  Reducing these inflammatory reactions in the body is frequently one of the primary goals in holistic treatment of autoimmune conditions.

Chronic psychological stress can inhibit the body’s ability to manage and decrease inflammation, which leads to an increase in many autoimmune symptoms.  This is partly due to the body’s release of a hormone called cortisol during stressful situations, which initiate the “fight or flight” response.  Cortisol traditionally has a natural anti-inflammatory effect on the body, but tissues can become resistant to this hormone after long-term or extremely high-level exposure, which leads to increased cortisol AND increased inflammation.

One of the important things to consider is: stress is NOT typically the primary trigger for development of an autoimmune disease, and the symptoms of autoimmunity are NOT psycho-somatic.  However, in many cases of autoimmunity, particularly stressful situations and long-term stressors are likely to trigger a symptom flare or make symptoms worse in the individual.

Working with your health care provider to help manage stress in your life can potentially help to reduce your autoimmune symptoms and the frequency of symptom flares.  Contact us today at Aria Integrative Medicine with any questions or to schedule a complimentary 10-minute phone consultation to work with a physician who specializes in holistic treatment of autoimmune conditions.

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