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Stress And The Immune System

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Stress And The Immune System The immune system is a very important part of our bodily functions as its main function is to protect the body against millions of antigens, which attack our cells and try to reproduce viruses and diseases. The immune system can protect the body in three different ways, in which are: 1. It creates a barrier that prevents the antigens from initially entering the body. 2. If the antigens do manage to enter the body, then your immune system will try to detect the virus and abolish it before it begins to spread. 3. If the virus does reproduce and begins to cause problems, your immune system is then responsible for eliminating it. The most important part of the immune system is the white blood cells, which are also known as leucocytes. The most important type of white blood cell is the lymphocyte. Lymphocytes are developed as either T-cells or B-cells. A B-cell is specifically designated to a certain virus and so when that virus does enter the body, the B-cell will produce millions of antibodies to eliminate the virus. ...read more.


It naturally is clearly difficult to create stress within a group of participants to examine how stress does affect your immune system. Hence Kiecolt-Glaser required seeking a group of participants in which naturally have high levels of chronic stress. Procedures Kiecolt-Glaser et al 1995 used a group of women who were caring for relatives suffering from a rare disease called senile dementia. This responsibility has been known to be associated with chronic stress. Kiecolt-Glaser et al used a matched participants design, which is where the participants are matched together based on for example age and height. A volunteer sample was used as the participants were recruited using advertisements. There were thirteen women aged between forty-seven and eighty one year and who were all carers and so they were placed in the experimental group. An additional thirteen participants were matched with the participants in the experimental group based on their age and income but not their marital status. These participants were placed in the control group. All of the participants from both of the two groups were given a small wound measuring 3.5millimetres. ...read more.


However the experiment did not take into account the effects that smoking and marital status could have on the levels of stress and non-smoking is related to better immune functioning. This then suggests that the carers should initially have better immune functioning and so strengthens the validity of the findings in the sense that stress does have an affect on the immune system. Brady 1958 Brady 1958 also carried out research into the relationship between stress and the immune system by experimenting on monkeys. The executive monkey had to control electric shocks that were dispensed to itself and another monkey, and provided that the executive monkey pressed a lever every twenty seconds, neither of the monkeys received electric shock. The executive monkey died within a few weeks as it experienced a perforated ulcer. This outcome implies that the monkey died due to stress rather than the electric shocks causing the perforated ulcer. This was evident because both of the monkeys received the electric shocks but only the executive monkey experienced high levels of stress. Psychologists have also found that stress is related to physical illness and so can explain the relationship between stress and the immune system. ...read more.

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