Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Immune Responses to Stress

  • Jerrald Rector
  • Victoria E. Burns
  • Jos A. BoschEmail author
  • Leila Anane
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_464-2



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 and McEwen 1997). This entry 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, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerrald Rector
    • 1
  • Victoria E. Burns
    • 2
  • Jos A. Bosch
    • 3
    Email author
  • Leila Anane
    • 2
  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.School of Sport and Exercise SciencesThe University of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  3. 3.Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anna C. Whittaker
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK