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Can stress result in illnesses lasting longer?

I've heard that stress has a strong effect on your immune system. But is it true that having higher rates of stress can actually cause your illnesses to draw out longer? If so, is there a recommended program for decreasing daily stress levels?
Although stress has beneficial values (such as when encountering something dangerous, the so called "fight or flight response"), when stress is allowed to get out of control, it can cause severe and long lasting effects on the body. Stress can act as an immune modulator, causing the immune system to function at less than optimal levels. Not only can stress cause illnesses to be drawn out for longer periods of time, stress can decrease the body`s natural ability to fight illness causing a higher risk for feeling the effects of illness in a person who is chronically stressed when compared with someone who does not have as high levels of stress. Initial treatments for stress include deep breathing, meditation, exercise, biofeedback, yoga and massage therapy amongst other methods. If these treatments do not work, or if you feel that stress is getting out of control, consider seeing your primary care physician who may be able to recommend other forms of stress management, or perhaps medications that help alleviate anxiety. You may also consider psychiatrists or other medical professionals who are able to assist you with speech therapy, biofeedback, and other forms of stress relief as these methods have also been shown to alleviate stress.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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