When caring for a patient experiencing high stress due to a loss, understanding the role of immunity is
crucial. The immune system plays a significant role in both the physical and psychological well-being of
individuals, and stress can have a profound impact on its functioning.
1. Immune System and Stress: Chronic stress weakens the immune system, making individuals more
susceptible to infections and diseases. The activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis
during stress leads to the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels can suppress
immune function by reducing the production of immune cells and impairing their response to pathogens
(Dhabhar, 2014). This compromised immune response can prolong recovery and increase the risk of
developing additional health issues.
2. Psychological Factors and Immunity: Loss and grief can significantly impact an individual’s
psychological well-being. Psychological factors like depression and anxiety can influence immune
function. Studies have shown that individuals experiencing high levels of psychological distress may
exhibit dysregulated immune responses, including increased inflammatory markers and reduced
immune cell activity (Irwin & Cole, 2011). These immune dysfunctions can further exacerbate the impact
of stress on the body and impede the healing process.
Stress is one of the key factors that lead to a decreased in immunity and the body defend
mechanism against illness. High level of stress especially due to a loss can aggravate an illness
and put the body at risk for further complications. During period of stress the body activates the
stress response which causes stress hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol to be
released. These stress hormones causes an increased in blood pressure, heart rate, and blood
sugar. Overtime these stress hormones can cause the body to breakdown leading to medical
conditions such as high blood pressure, Diabetes mellitus, and mental problems like anxiety and