Stress Slows Wound Healing
That stress affects immune functioning has been well known for years. How stress affects the body’s ability to heal, however, has not been extensively studied.
A recent study examined the role of stress in the healing process. Researchers studied 13 “women caring for demented relatives and 13 controls…” All twenty sic subjects were given a punch biopsy, to create a 3-5 mm wound. The wounds were cared for identically for all patients, and were photographed every 2-8 days. Also, all subjects were tested for blood cytokine levels -- a measure of immunological functioning.
The researchers found that complete healing took an average of nine days longer in the subjects who were caring an ill relative. Caregivers also had decreased immune functioning, and reported higher levels of perceived stress.
“Previous animal and human studies have shown that stress can increase vulnerability to infectious illness. The findings of this study suggest that stress-related alterations in immune function could have additional implications for health beyond infectious disease.”