Psychological factors related to colds/bugs

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Psychological factors related to colds/bugs

Post by maven » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:58 am

I was wondering if bugs are getting worse, or if my resilience to them has reduced when I read this page about factors influencing resilience to coughs and colds. It says that having a good social support network, sleeping well and not being too stressed are protective. So, is there any evidence base for this? Are there any other psychological factors that influence resilience to contagions or recovery from viral or bacterial infections?

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Re: Psychological factors related to colds/bugs

Post by Spatch » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:45 am

Stress and impact on cold
Sleep and impact ... 4701?=rssa

Am suffering from a cold that won't quit at the moment, so can't fillet the methodologies as I would normally. I attribute to age and toddler.I also wonder if there is something about conscientiousness and people returning to work before they should be that could be researched.
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Re: Psychological factors related to colds/bugs

Post by BlueCat » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:05 pm

Psychoneuroimmunology is a whole field of research. Yonks ago I had some input in the immunology team when I worked in health. I seem to recall there is evidence for first line sickness responses (inflammation, production of mucus, upping your white blood cells, lethargy - all the things that fight off the infection initially) and stress responses sharing a neural loop (something to do with the vagus nerve I think, as it isn't a blood-brain barrier thing), which makes sense in terms of the whole "priming your body to fight" thing, except the first line sickness responses are fighting infection rather than something external. Short term, this can up you resistance, in the same way that short term fight flight freeze can be helpful, but in chronic terms (like with chronic anxiety) you become habituated, and your body kind of tunes out the constant priming messages and stops responding in the same way - there is less variation. This can mean that your body doesn't up its response effectively to fight off infections when they start, and allows them to bed in and become serious. So instead of fighting of a staph throat infection by using inflammatory processes, mucus production, causing energy conservation by lethargy etc your body just lets it be, and it settles in and causes much more serious complications. Pretty sure there's clear evidence of this from animal studies.

Pretty sure there's also a link with memory and cognitive function, evidenced through animal studies, where higher levels of cortisol affect how and how well we can learn and reason. This makes sense again in terms of a state of fight flight freeze and the hypothalamopituitary axis and threat processing etc - why expend energy on executive function when your body is telling you you need to focus on senory processing and survival.

I can't link you to any studies off hand, and this info-from-memory is from 10+ years ago, so might have moved on since then! I've not had reason to revisit since then, but this has piqued my curiosity and so I might now go off and think if there are any applications/crossovers in my current job - if I come across anything relevant I'll let you know.
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Re: Psychological factors related to colds/bugs

Post by secret squirrel » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:24 pm

Off on a tangent but there's robust evidence that links childhood trauma to considerably poorer adult health outcomes, e.g. not the same thing, of course, but shares some underlying ideas about mind-body links! on a different (opposing!) note i read this yesterday - ... r-get-sick -
"“It’s why doctors worry about positive-psychology arguments,” says Robinson. “It implies that if you ‘succumb’ to illness, you’ve somehow lost. Beware the lure of positive psychology if it suggests you’re weak if you get ill.” Perhaps we should view viruses not as the enemy but as the educators of our immune systems. “We might view colds as little boosts and challenges to our immune systems,” Robinson says. “Maybe when we get over a virus we should remember not to moan about the cold but to give thanks to our immune system for fighting it.” "

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