Jump to navigation. Losing a loved one is one of the most stressful life experiences a person will endure, and its toll can be physical as well as emotional. Science has shown, for example, that widows and widowers have a 41 percent higher risk of early death, compared to their still-married peers. Bereavement's association with increased risk for disease and early mortality may be explained, at least in part, by the relationship between grief and the immune system — something researchers began studying in Since then, evidence has shown that people may experience negative changes in their immune function following the loss of a loved one. In a new research review article published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, University of Arizona psychology doctoral student Lindsey Knowles and associate professors of psychology Mary-Frances O'Connor and John Ruiz examined 41 years of existing research on bereavement and the immune system.
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Answer: Depression really has profound effects on the immune system. Depression can cause increases in a variety of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and various other inflammatory substance such as interleukin Increases in all of these hormones and other substances can cause significant decrease in the body's ability to repair itself and for a variety of organ systems to function well. This may lead to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It can cause osteoporosis. It may lead to various infections because of a breakdown in normal immune system functioning. And it can also cause or worsen cancers.
The immune system might play an important role in the development of postpartum depression after a stressful pregnancy, new research suggests. Areas of the brain responsible for mood regulation showed signs of inflammation in the study, which used an animal model of postpartum depression to examine the possible connection between the immune system, the brain and the disorder. Postpartum depression is common after childbirth -- about 15 percent of all new mothers will experience the disorder, which has a variety of symptoms including prolonged depression, difficulty bonding with the baby, overwhelming fatigue and hopelessness. It's surprising how little we know about how it arises," Leuner said. Previous research has focused primarily on potential hormonal explanations for postpartum depression, though some earlier work has been done on the immune system.
Losing a loved one is, of course, incredibly traumatic; it may also shorten lifespan. For years, researchers and laypeople alike have noted that when someone loses a partner, their risk of mortality increases significantly. The phenomenon has been under investigation for decades.
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