APR 29, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Mental Health and Our Immune System

The conversation regarding mental health is finally at the forefront and is no longer a taboo topic that people shy away from while saying, “Suck it up.” Everyone from celebrities to average hardworking adults are no longer afraid to discuss mental health and how vital it is to living a full and healthy life. As of 2022, it is estimated that 19.86% of adults in the United States are experiencing a mental illness, which is equivalent to 50 million Americans, with 4.91% experience a severe mental illness. The question now becomes how does mental health affect our physical health? We previously explored how diet affects your immune system, and here we’ll focus on how mental health affects our immune system.

Our immune system is vital for literally keeping us healthy, as it fights off germs and other disease-causing microorganisms. Having this system functioning at peak capacity will equally allow us to function at our peak, as well. While understanding the connection between mental health and the immune system is still in its infancy, it is believed that meditation and having some kind of emotional balance may actually affect your immune system.

“We know that people with mental disorders are also more susceptible to various inflammations in the body and to immune system disorders. This indicates that an interaction exists,” says Associate Professor Solveig Merete Klæbo Reitan at NTNU’s Department of Mental Health.

While Professor Klæbo Reitan does not believe that you can think your way into good health, saying you can’t recover from cancer or arthritis by just thinking it, but she believes the disease might take a better course if a person can maintain a positive mental state.

The following short video from MEDSimplified does an excellent job explaining the connection between mental health and the immune system.

As always, keep doing science & stay healthy!

Sources: Mental Health America, Labroots, Pfizer, Neuroscience News, YouTube

MS in Geological Sciences
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of “Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey”.
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