Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), also referred to as psychoendoneuroimmunology, is the study of the interaction between psychological processes, and the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems of the human body. Research, studies, and therapeutic modalities focus on how stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other nervous conditions, today, may all have detrimental effects on the body’s immune defense.
As a Health Psychologist, I assist you with identifying lifestyle behaviors, thoughts and actions which increase stress. Epidemiology studies have shown a link between life stress and higher likelihood of infectious and inflammatory disease. This is most likely the effect of stress hormones excreted by the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The prolonged release of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) associated with chronic stress can cause a spike in cortisol, increasing susceptibility to lowered immunity and repeated infections such as respiratory, autoimmunity, neurological disorders, and GI issues. Research also demonstrates that decreased levels of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol were associated to interventions such as tai chi, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, mindfulness, religious/spiritual practices, cognitive therapy, coping, and physical exercise.
As a holistic provider, I look at all aspects of your care and aim to rule out biological factors, predisposition of illness, lifestyle, sleep patterns, nutrition, and medical and psychological history. What you may be experiencing may not be solely psychological but have a biological component.