How Fear Affects Your Immune System

by | Mar 17, 2022 | Issues, Lifestyle, Lifestyle - Issue 141 | 0 comments

What do you know about your immune system and fear? Fear is a human emotion sparked by the perception of danger; it's a basic survival system that tells our bodies...

What do you know about your immune system and fear? Fear is a human emotion sparked by the perception of danger; it’s a basic survival system that tells our bodies to fight or flight when we’re in danger. As human beings, fear can help us be safe, but we don’t know that constant fear can lead to a weaker immune system. 

Fear can have harmful effects in all parts of our lives and even threaten the balance of our immune systems if we live in continual fear, mainly from physical hazards in our environment or the threats we perceive.



Are You Living under Constant Fear?

Living under continual fear has major health implications. Below are some of the health consequences of chronic fear:

  1. Your Body: Fear wreaks havoc on our immune systems, resulting in cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders like ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and reduced reproductive potential. It hastens the aging process.
  2. Memory, Brain and Mental Health: Too much fear isn’t harmful only to your body but also your brain. It can hinder the formation of long-term memories and cause damage to particular sections of the brain, which might disrupt your memory. When long-term fear might lead to other repercussions such as weariness, sadness and PTSD, your mental health will be jeopardized. It can have a detrimental impact on our thinking and decision-making, making us more vulnerable to powerful emotions and impulsive behaviors.



Fear’s Effect on the Immune System

We already know that fear has the advantage of assisting us in preparing to react to dangers. But when in chronic fear, our bodies generate hormones that can slow or shut down functions that are necessary for survival, such as our digestive system. According to Dr. Tracey Stiles, the downside of fear is that it can reduce your immune response, leading to an immune system dysfunction is one of the potential consequences of chronic fear. 



What is Immune System Dysfunction?

Immune system dysfunction means that you have an autoimmune disorder where your immune system causes abnormally low activity or overactivity. The body attacks and damages its own tissues. Immune deficiency diseases decrease the body’s ability to fight invaders, thereby causing it to be vulnerable to infections. Examples of autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, psoriasis and vasculitis.



The Difference between Healthy and Unhealthy Fear

Our neurological system has been conditioned to fear ever since we were babies. It instills in us the survival instincts we require to stay safe when in danger. Healthy fear is a normal reaction to danger, such as when you encounter a dangerous snake and run for safety. Unhealthy fear, on the other hand, can be harmful. An example of this is when you are afraid of meeting new acquaintances or people. This is a form of fear that prevents you from doing things you could enjoy.



How to Deal with Fear and Anxiety?

The first thing to do is to acknowledge and learn from your fear and take the proper measures:

  • Take the time to exercise: Because it requires concentration, exercise can help you take your mind out of fear and anxiety.
  • Take the time to relax: Meditation and relaxation techniques can help you with the mental and physical side-effects of fear. Breathing techniques during yoga classes can help you drop your shoulders and breathe deeply. A good massage at the spa can also help you relax.
  • Eat healthily: Choose to eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables while trying to avoid consuming too much sugar, tea and coffee. 



A Parting Reminder

Ask for help if needed; talk to someone if you feel anxious and fearful. Don’t let fear take over and control your everyday life. Your doctor, friends, spouse and colleagues can help ease the burden of what you feel inside of you. Always remember that your health, mind and body matter more than your inconceivable anxiousness and fear. 

Ann Y

Ann Y