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Bullying effects on the immune system

Discussion in 'Immunological' started by Sinclair, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. Sinclair

    Sinclair Senior Member

    I have been looking for sound information on mind-body connection and ME/CFS, particularly its immunological aspects

    I was under severe stress, for instance, when I got the allegedly viral trigger. Other people was under the same stress and did not developed ME/CFS. I may assume that the virus I got at this time was transmited to beloved ones...they did not developed ME/CFS either. My most severe crashes have been preceded by periods of stress.

    I was always certain it was not 'all in my mind' but...

    Some Drs. say meditation and positive attitude may help with CFS symptoms, some say that these might even help in Th2 to Th1 modulation

    Some information below supports this connection as shaping the scenario for ME/CFS...

    Rest & Pacing, diet, supplements, natural anti-virals and immunomodulators have helped me a lot.....but is the physiological/biological/functional approach all that we need for immune restoration?

    This is not an invitation for sellers of psycobabble but a serious question about how can we mentally help our immune system

  2. xrunner

    xrunner Senior Member

    My own story says yes but if the whole thing started with an infection you need to "remove" the offenders or significantly lower the load (i.e. the lyme, micoplasmas, ebv etc), however natural anti-virals and immunomodulators won't work, haven't worked for me anyhow except for short-term symptomatic relief.

    . I used to have a very low tolerance to stress and it all went away after treating the infections while the mental approach (cbt, meditations, etc) was useless, totally irrelevant for my recovery.
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  3. PeterPositive

    PeterPositive Senior Member

    I think it's not uncommon for people to get ill after a prolonged period of stress. We don't cope with stress in the same ways and there's people who can deal with a lot of it thanks to their constitution, while others can't.

    As you mentioned other people under the same amount of stress did not develop ME/CFS. I suppose partly because they dealt with the pressure differently, partly because they didn't have the necessary "variables" to develop the illness.

    I like meditating, I have done it for quite some time and have looked into most of the interesting studies showing and effect on the immune function. To be honest I don't think I have ever been able to significantly alter my immune response via meditation. But it's been of some help in difficult times and I would recommend it anyways, when it's possible to do it. CFS can be so bad on mental energy that staying focused can be a huge challenge.

    Also it seems that meditation, like any other human practice, is sometimes easier for some people than others. Like playing the piano or running the marathon. Some folks are simply born with an innate ability to do it and they excel at it, while others struggle and never get to the same level of proficiency even with hard work.

    I say this because I think some of the most incredible feats done by pro meditators (e.g. buddhist monks), such as raising their body temperature to dry a wet cloth and similar, seem out of reach for casual practitioners.

    Think of Wim Hof, so called "Ice Man", the guy is the living proof that the mind can control processes that are normally regarded as purely autonomous. And he teaches people how to do it, although I am not sure if his students have reached his level of proficiency.

    His ability to alter the function of his immune system, and other bodily functions, are outstanding and well documented. I suppose he's a super talented guy, just like Bach or Kubrick in their respective fields.

    Stress can definitely add more weight to all the other problems, so addressing it is always a good idea. For some people it can do miracles for others it will make a minor difference, like anything else, I suppose.

    In my case removing stress has had several positive effects but nothing miraculous. Unfortunately for a year or so I bought into the whole psychobabble business, partially for curiosity and partly for need of a solution to a devastating crash. It didn't hurt to try and I got some benefit out of it, but some of the people that were supposed to help me were outright lunatics :rolleyes:

    Rant over :)
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2014
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  4. PNR2008

    PNR2008 Senior Member

    OH USA
    Very well written, honest and informative. I too believe the way one handles stress can be the saving grace and yet should people be allowed to judge another for their "stress relieving skills".
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  5. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

    I suffered from very severe anxiety prior to getting sick. To me it is mixed up in the pot of poor nutrition, genetics and bad luck. It will affect some more than others, but for some there is definitely a connection there. I consider addressing your psychological foibles as a really important part of any treatment approach, as undue, chronic stress can deplete glutathione, impair digestion and lead to heightened inflammation, amongst other things.

    The late Rich Van K, a very popular and well respected CFS/ME scientist who frequented this forum and went out of his way to help people with CFS, theorised that glutathione depletion via chronic psychological stress is one possible route into CFS/ME (ref).

    Dr Myhill is another well respected functional medicine practitioner who considers addressing psychological issues to be potentially helpful in expediting recovery. I do not have the citations right now though I have posted them on the forum before and will find them tomorrow if people really want them.

    Here is a survey of the factors people deem to have played a role in the onset of their illness. I think you will find the points at the top somewhat unsurprising: fatigue syndrome/causes/

    It is not a popular opinion on this forum generally. This is understandable due to the history of psychobabble in CFS/ME. However you will see it acts on many of the same areas that are found to be dysfunctional in people with CFS/ME (e.g. the limbic system/autonomic nervous system, the adrenals, the gut and so on). Stress causes systemic physiological strain and this is apparently a systemic illness.

    The area needs more genuine research to confirm these theories. Stuff about catastrophising symptoms and it all being in our heads, however, is rubbish and dangerous to the health of every person with CFS/ME. A clear distinction must be drawn.
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  6. ahmo

    ahmo Senior Member

    Northcoast NSW, Australia
    It seems to me that there's a tendency to perceive stress as somehow disembodied. Stress is managed, or not managed, by the adrenals. Bash the adrenals long and hard enough, and there's a cascade of reactions. Those with certain genetics most likely handle stresses less well than others. It doesn't really matter whether the source of stress is infectious, psychological, or some other form: the body reacts/responds. Things happen.

    I spent decades *working on* my over-reactivity in my primary relationship. It was not through lack of will or effort or trying every sort of therapy that I couldn't overcome this behaviour. As I've progressed through healing, finally, during the past 2.5 years, all my unwanted behaviours have evaporated. Progressively, beginning from when I eliminated gluten, added the correct supps, and then radically, when I had a major detox of my adrenals.

    Dietrich Klinghardt, working w/ lyme, autism, pyroluria says it's almost universal that those who manifest w/ pyroluria have had stressful childhoods. I was bullied in my family. My body was set up from the beginning to over-react. There were not only changes in my brain, but in everything managing flight/flight in the body. There is no mindbody disconnect. It was only from my recent research into adrenals that I understood that the chronic low back attacks of my past had been directly related to adrenals. Not just "stress" , which had always been obvious, not just my emotional state, but a direct physiological response.

    Alongside/after tackling the physiological components, can we begin to build new neural circuits, find ways to talk ourselves down from the mental messages that return us to patterns of fear, or anxiety or depression and make us miserable? Yes. Can this shift Th1/Th2 modulation? Likely.

    [Sorry, this is a rather disjointed communication...] OTOH, when I was at my worst, flailing in an overactive nervous system, weeks before I discovered the GAPS diet and stopped gluten, long before I made my way to these forums...In another galaxy far far away...I signed up for the Gupta Amygdyla Training. I knew my amygdala was involved, hadn't been able to find any other brain training to help...It only increased my anxiety listening to what I now understand to be a misbegotten CBT approach to CFS. Once the gluten was out of my system, I could proceed w/ the sessions, but they would never have worked for me, Never. They were still trying to correct something far downstream from where the actual problem was: my physiology.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2014
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  7. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

    When I first developed IBS, this caused generalized anxiety disorder, which is not an uncommon comorbidity to IBS.

    Prior to this anxiety disorder, everything in my life was going well: job, relationship, social life all great. But as soon as I was hit with anxiety disorder, everything became stressful, even though my life itself had not changed, only my brain had altered.

    Thus when you hear the phrase "I went though a stressful time," you need to look at this more closely, and ask: to what extent might the stress have been caused by a change in brain functioning leading to a condition like anxiety disorder, which can magnify out of all proportion the stress content of life events; and to what extent might the stress have been cause by events that were genuinely stressful.

    In other words, the stress from circumstances depends not only on the nature of those circumstances, but also the state of health of your brain. Your brain enables or disables you in terms of handling the stress.
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  8. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

    I agree wholeheartedly with the above two posts. It is not a linear system, and just because you feel stress or anxiety it does not necessarily mean the origin is ongoing maladaptive coping mechanisms. For instance, people who undergo gastric bypass have to have a psychological evaluation prior to the procedure as rate of suicides are so high following it being done. If your parents experienced PTSD this can also be passed down via epigenetics.

    For some people it seems that physical causes such as these can then be perpetuated by learned behaviour (or learned behaviour can be the primary cause due to life experiences). If my brain and body are unhealthy I can quite easily learn fearful thinking patterns. There can then be an ongoing communication between fear coming from an unhealthy brain and the fear you invest yourself. Addressing my anxiety problem, which at times had me experiencing borderline hallucinations, involved me considering both of these aspects.

    I have to say, @ahmo , I did Gupta too and found it really great for all the loose ends I needed to tie up. I think it's also been an important element that has seen me move from a state of constant and severe hyper-arousal into a generally more restful state. Hopefully over time that can improve my odds of recovery when I combine it with other interventions. For some it works wonders, for others it is a waste of time.
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  9. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards Senior Member

    I've always found it utterly exhausting to be angry or upset since I've been ill; when I was more severely affected, if I were to burst into tears, I could raise symptoms for weeks on end (which meant I didn't do it very often). Keeping your mood even isn't going to make you well in itself, but I'd say it's been an important part of helping me improve.
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  10. JAM

    JAM Jill

    The mind/body connection is definitely real and applicable. It also works both ways. I've always been ill (was very stressed physically in utero, so that was probably my initial trigger), but when I have long stretches of symptoms it greatly affects my mind causing depression and anxiety which feed into more symptoms. If I'm in intense pain breathing and meditation techniques help me decrease the intensity and duration of the symptoms, but they didn't lessen significantly until I started to get the virus under control. Now I am only symptomatic when I up my dosage and when I force myself into situations that bring on the PTSD from the illness, situations where I have been very ill before, and that triggers an emotional response that triggers a physical one.

    The one thing about the mind/body connection that can get my hackles up is when it is used as a form of victim blaming. We didn't think our way into this and we can't think our way out of it. All that "Secret" "Law of Attraction" crap really chaps my hide.
  11. xchocoholic

    xchocoholic Senior Member

    I was bullied as a child too but it was because I had petite mals / spaciness and a problem pronouncing w's and r's. These were mild compared to post me/cfs onset so my grades were still good.

    I was born in 1955 and no one recognized that certain food like gluten, caffeine, dyes or sugar made these worse. And then there's mold, lead, toxic chemicals, etc. May as well add the effects second hand smoke including marijuana.

    As a society, we're looking closer at this now but I still run into those who refuse to think toxic food, etc can trigger behaviors. And removing these foods or chemicals can alter behavior. I feel bad for these kids knowing their childhoods could be better. You only get 1 childhood.

    I suspect a lot of children are bullied because of physical problems including undiagnosed physical problems that are misdiagnosed as psychological or emotional. Certainly too many kids are being prescribed medications for behaviors while they continue to eat total garbage. These kids are labelled as problem kids and can be bullied by teachers, school administrators, parents, other kids and sometimes the police.

    Sadly, it's been my experience that once these physical problems are identified and we feel better, those who developed superiority complexes towards us can't accept the change. Bullies can't give up their need to put others down and the physically disabled are easy prey. Actually this may intensify as they see their prey becoming less of an easy prey and desperately need to feel superior.

    So, in cases where the bullying was prompted by some physical problems and bias, it's not the bullying but the chemicals we were putting in our bodies that made us likely to become chronically ill. As far as I know the medical profession still isn't screening for the well known celiac genes, dq2 and dq8. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to genetic screening.

    Tc .. x
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  12. Sinclair

    Sinclair Senior Member

    Thanks for sharing your points.

    I recently visited for the first time a doctor in antroposophic medecine.

    It would be too long to put everything here, but something in the line of this thread he said and maked sense to me was the trade-off of beings between vegetative(non-conscious) state and conscious/awakened state.

    Since meditation and forced long periods of sleep seem to have helped some PWME, working in switching off the mind for longer periods could provide some help?

    (I personally experienced a way out from a crash after a week of 15 hours daily sleeping, before even knowing I had ME/CFS)

    PWME usually have had very active lives before their illness, and one of the symptoms very often mentioned is being "tired but wired"...

    Just sharing a connection I made regarding this mind/body issue....


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