Chronic Stress Linked to Inflammation

Stress carries an emotional toll, but as many people know, it can also be very damaging to your health.

Chronic stress, in particular, has been linked to anxiety, depression, heart disease, digestive problems, sleep disturbances, memory and concentration impairment, and weight gain.

Now, a recent study published in The Journal of Neuroscience gives us a better understanding of why chronic stress has such an impact on our health – by highlighting its link to inflammation.

In the study, researchers explored the impact of chronic stress on mice. They placed the mice in a maze and gave them plenty of time to memorize an escape hole. When not under stress, the mice easily found the hole time and time again.

Yet, after repeated visits by a larger, more aggressive mouse, the mice were no longer able to recall the location of the escape hole. Other mice that were not exposed to the threat had no problem continuing to remember the location of the exit.

The mice also displayed depressive-like behavior (social avoidance) that lasted over 4 weeks and had a trouble forming new neurons even 28 days after the repeated stress had ended.

The researchers learned that the mice had measurable signs of inflammation in their brains following their repeated exposure to an alpha mouse – immune cells that appear when the body’s immune system is exposed to an outside pressure.

Knowing that prolonged stress can create inflammation in the body is important for those who are interested in disease-prevention, but especially for those who want to reverse and stop their own chronic disease symptoms.

With inflammation underlying most chronic diseases, we need to focus on reducing and preventing inflammation in the body.

That is why it is so important for those who suffer from chronic disease to manage their stress levels effectively.

If you currently struggle with keeping your stress levels in check, these strategies can help:

  1. Get Active – Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress.
  2. Get it Done – Avoid Procrastination. When you complete your work in advance, the pressure of that looming deadline won’t make you sweat.
  3. Eat a Healthy Diet consisting of whole, real foods – Avoid processed carbohydrates and sugars as they feed silent infection in the body and increase inflammation. Further compounding this problem: the inflammation that results from a poor diet can increase feelings of anxiety & depression, making stress levels soar, leading to even further inflammation in the body.
  4. Cut out the Caffeine – caffeine increases anxiety and stress because it increases heart & breathing rates and can interfere with a healthy sleep routine.
  5. Confront the Elephant in the Room – whether it be an unhealthy relationship, unresolved anger, frustrations and past hurts – you must address the big stressors in your life or they will increase your risk for disease.
  6. Simplify Your Life – Do you find that you are always busy and often drowning in commitments? Are there any activities or commitments in your life that need revising, could be shared or need to be removed entirely? Freeing up time for oneself can be very challenging, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to reduce your stress levels.
  7. Embrace Nurturing Activities – listen to music, go for a walk, take a bath, plant a garden, laugh with friends, take a nap, meditate.
  8. Get Enough Rest – Be sure to get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Impaired sleep can greatly increase stress levels.
  9. Become Active in Your Community – join a club, community or religious group. Pitch in and help out. Connect with others of similar interests. These will help to boost your feelings of wellness & community and reduce stress in your life.
  10. Connect with Nature – Studies have shown that regularly spending time in nature greatly reduces stress levels and increases feelings of well-being.

To learn how to live disease free, I encourage you to watch my free masterclass training: How to Recover from MS Naturally.

To watch videos from Pam, subscribe to the Live Disease Free YouTube channel.


“Long Term Stress Erodes Memory.” March 1, 2016.

“Neuroinflammatory Dynamics Underlie Memory Impairments after Repeated Social Defeat.” The Journal of Neuroscience, 2 March 2016, 36(9): 2590-2604; doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2394-15.2016

“Stress Management – Chronic Stress Puts Your Health at Risk.”


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