Americans are stressed out, and it’s making them sick. According to the American Psychological Association, the vast majority of people experience some level of stress. Many even report extreme levels of stress such that it impacts their health. In an effort to combat the epidemic, scientists have developed a “vaccine” that seeks to reduce the symptoms associated with the body’s stress response. But is it for everyone?
Prolonged stress can wreak havoc on the body. If left untreated, stress can cause worrisome health problems, including chronic headaches, depression, digestive issues, muscle pain and sexual dysfunction. Fortunately, scientists are working on a stress vaccine intended for individuals who are most at risk for stress-related health problems. Who is the ideal candidate?
The Problem with Stress
What are Americans so stressed out about? Mostly money and work. However, health concerns and family responsibilities are also major stressors. Regardless of the triggers, stress can be a very powerful negative force in your life. If left untreated, it can lead to many health conditions, including depression, headaches, heartburn, anxiety, insomnia, fertility problems and muscle pain. What’s more, it can cause serious, even deadly, health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart attack and high blood sugar. So we've got to keep it under control. And that's what we've done to date, try to keep it under control, to manage the effects of stress via things like meditation, self-care, and vacations. But what if we could prevent it from harming us in the first place?
How the Stress Vaccine Works
Stress affects health by contributing to the body’s natural inflammatory response. When we’re stressed, our systems become aggravated and inflamed. Prolonged inflammation leads to illness. The stress vaccine seeks to rectify that by infusing immune cells with a lipid (or fatty acid). When the fatty acid enters the immune cells, it calms them and turns off their inflammatory response, which may then in turn greatly reduce inflammation throughout the body. So we may soon be able to block stress from harming our cells.
Ideal Candidates for the Stress Vaccine
So far, scientists have identified a group of people who would most benefit from the stress vaccine. It includes individuals in high-stress jobs who are at a greater risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including police officers, firefighters and other first responders. But as they move forward, will we all soon be able to benefit? Will there come a day when feeling stress doesn't also make us stressed about the impact it's having on our health?
If given the chance would you take a stress vaccine? Should you? Obviously, it's a decision to be made in concert with your doctor. But if you’re in a high-stress job or at risk for developing PTSD, you might want to look into it. Although they're closer than they've been yet, the vaccine may not be ready for another 10 to 15 years, so you have plenty of time to think about it.
Copyright 2019, Wellness.com