From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history

Stress can by either physical or psychological, or both.[1] Stress is defined as either a state of emotional or psychological strain or tension resulting from a situation or event, or the physical stress (pressure or tension) exerted on a physical object such as a part of the body, e.g., a stress test is a medical test that monitors the cardiovascular system during strenuous exercise.[2][3]

Good stress[edit | edit source]

"Good" stress refers to experiences that are physically or emotionally challenging but don't last, and are within the person's ability to master, resulting in feelings of exhilaration and accomplishment.[4] For example, running for longer than normal in order to get fitter without becoming ill or exhausted, or handling a very busy day at work successfully.

Physiological stress[edit | edit source]

Physiological stress is stress placed on living organisms, such as cells or people.[1] Physiological stresses include physical injury to the body, surgery, walking outside in cold and wet conditions without a coat on, and malnutrition.[1]

ME/CFS[edit | edit source]

Emotional or psychological stress, particularly when chronic, is considered a potential trigger for ME/CFS. Emotional stress is also known to worsen ME/CFS symptoms. ME patients are usually advised to avoid stress wherever possible.

Autonomic nervous system[edit | edit source]

Stress causes bodily changes via the autonomic nervous system.

Notable studies[edit | edit source]

Several studies found it is not uncommon to experience major psychological chronic stress (from events such as divorce, bereavement or serious financial worries) in the year prior to developing ME/CFS.[5][6][7]

Chronic psychological stress elevates cortisol which suppresses the Th1 antiviral/intracellular immune response and the T-cell response.[8] Chronic stress has also been shown to greatly increase susceptibility to viral infection.[9] This increased susceptibility is not observed after short-term acute stress (periods of stress of less than 1 month duration).[10]

As ME/CFS normally appears after acute viral infection, the presence of chronic stress may weaken immunity and allow a normally mild virus to trigger the serious disease of ME/CFS.

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Betts, J. Gordon; Young, Kelly A.; Wise, James A.; Johnson, Eddie; Poe, Brandon; Kruse, Dean H.; Korol, Oksana; Johnson, Jody E.; Womble, Mark; DeSaix, Peter (April 25, 2013). "17.6 The Adrenal Glands". Anatomy and Physiology. OpenStax. Houston, Texas.
  2. Stevenson, Angus; Lindberg, Christine A., eds. (2015). New Oxford American Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
  3. "Heart Disease and Stress Tests". WebMD. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  4. McEwen, Bruce S. (July 1, 2007). "Physiology and Neurobiology of Stress and Adaptation: Central Role of the Brain". Physiological Reviews. 87 (3): 873–904. doi:10.1152/physrev.00041.2006. ISSN 0031-9333.
  5. Hatcher, Simon; House, Allan (October 2003). "Life events, difficulties and dilemmas in the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome: a case-control study". Psychological Medicine. 33 (7): 1185–1192. doi:10.1017/s0033291703008274. ISSN 0033-2917. PMID 14580073.
  6. Theorell, T.; Blomkvist, V.; Lindh, G.; Evengård, B. (May 1999). "Critical life events, infections, and symptoms during the year preceding chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): an examination of CFS patients and subjects with a nonspecific life crisis". Psychosomatic Medicine. 61 (3): 304–310. ISSN 0033-3174. PMID 10367610.
  7. Salit, Irving E. (January 1, 1997). "Precipitating factors for the chronic fatigue syndrome". Journal of Psychiatric Research. 31 (1): 59–65. doi:10.1016/S0022-3956(96)00050-7. ISSN 0022-3956.
  8. Dhabhar, Firdaus S (March 15, 2008). "Enhancing versus Suppressive Effects of Stress on Immune Function: Implications for Immunoprotection versus Immunopathology". Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology : Official Journal of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 4 (1): 2–11. doi:10.1186/1710-1492-4-1-2. ISSN 1710-1484. PMC 2869337. PMID 20525121.
  9. Murphy, Michael L. M.; Cohen, Sheldon; Janicki-Deverts, Denise; Doyle, William J. (June 20, 2017). "Offspring of parents who were separated and not speaking to one another have reduced resistance to the common cold as adults". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 114 (25): 6515–6520. doi:10.1073/pnas.1700610114. ISSN 1091-6490. PMC 5488935. PMID 28584098.
  10. Cohen, S.; Frank, E.; Doyle, W.J.; Skoner, D.P.; Rabin, B.S.; Gwaltney, J.M. (May 1998). "Types of stressors that increase susceptibility to the common cold in healthy adults". Health Psychology: Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association. 17 (3): 214–223. doi:10.1037//0278-6133.17.3.214. ISSN 0278-6133. PMID 9619470.