At the height of my anxiety I was getting ill every few weeks, coming down with colds that would last up to two weeks at a time. At the time I never made the connection between the anxiety that I had and the fact that I kept getting ill. The truth is that there is a direct relationship between anxiety and the immune system, albeit a complicated relationship. There is evidence to suggest from scientists that too much stress, leading to anxiety can weaken the immune system. The Stress that is exerted on the body by anxiety releases a hormone called cortisol, a stress hormone that is commonly referred to as the fight or flight hormone, basically nature’s alarm system. Anxiety doesn’t directly cause sickness, although by weakening the immune system, individuals who have anxiety that come into contact with germs are more likely to get ill, as the weakened immune system struggles to fight back.
Anxiety is a mental health problem, that is not to say that is cannot affect people physically. The two issues often go ‘hand in hand’. So why does cortisol weaken the immune system? Cortisol weakens your immune system for a valid reason. During intense periods of stress cortisol attempts to reduce inflammation by weakening some of the antibodies that can cause inflammation. Cortisol also attacks natural immunity and moves resources away from specific immunities, i.e. the ability to prevent diseases that your body knows how to control. Cortisol increases your heart rate, which in the face of real danger is useful. However, for prolonged periods of time your body needs T cells and white blood cells that cortisol is actively destroying, consequently weakening your immune system. The main issue isn’t that you will automatically get ill, this will require you to be in contact with germs. The issue is that once an anxious person gets ill, it will take longer for them to get over it as your body is reducing the number of antibodies that it has to fight viruses and bacteria. I knew this all too well, as sometimes it would take me two weeks to get over a cold!
There is also some evidence from scientists that individuals with allergies are more prone to getting anxiety. This in turn weakens the immune system and could potentially result in even more allergies! Scientists are not sure why this might be the case, some theories suggest that this occurs at a molecular level, equally and more likely though it can be said that living with allergies and illnesses makes life more intolerable, which increases the likelihood of developing anxiety.
It is vital that people who are anxious to take vitamin supplements to boost their immune system as much as possible to prevent them becoming ill. There are many off the shelf vitamins that will do, having said that the best products that I have personally found are well man and well woman. These products contain a selection of different vitamins that include: vitamin D, vitamin C, Zinc and vitamin B complex.