Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Immune Responses to Stress

  • Victoria E. Burns
  • Jos A. Bosch
  • Leila Anane
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_464



Stress can be thought of as a constellation of events comprised of a stimulus, “stressor,” that precipitates a reaction in the brain, “stress perception,” that activates fight-or-flight mechanisms, “stress response” (Dhabhar & McEwen, 1997). This section will concentrate on what happens in the immune system in response to stress.



In 1884, the editor of the British Medical Journal noted that at funerals, “the depression of spirits under which the chief mourners labour at these melancholy occasions peculiarly predisposes them to some of the worst effects of the chill.” Despite many such anecdotes suggesting a link between psychological factors and immune function, it is only relatively recently that these associations have received widespread acceptance in the scientific and medical communities. In fact, as recently as 1984, an editorial piece in Natureproclaimed the persistence of a “stout band of near skeptics” who, while...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria E. Burns
    • 1
  • Jos A. Bosch
    • 2
  • Leila Anane
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Sport and Exercise SciencesThe University of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Department of Clinical PsychologyFaculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands