Massive study shows correlation between stress di... - LUPUS UK

LUPUS UK
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Massive study shows correlation between stress disorders and later auto-immune disease

whisperit
whisperit

A correlation study of over 1 million Swedes has just been published. It shows that those diagnosed with a significant stress disorder such as PTSD, acute stress reaction or adjustment disorder were more likely to develop an autoimmune disorder later in life.

The relative risk suggests that highly stressed people are 30-40% more likely to develop an AI disorder than less stressed individuals.

Some interesting details:

- younger age groups showed a slightly higher correlation

- the correlation was the same for sibling and non-sibling comparison groups

- early SSRI treatment for the stress disorder was associated with a reduced likelihood of later AI problems

So there you go. Since it is just a correlation study, it doesn't suggest any mechanism for the association, but of course, there is growing evidence linking inflammatory processes to psychological disorders. One future treatment possibility that occurs to me would be to develop the capacity to travel back in time and avoid the traumatic events that happened earlier in life..... ;P

An abstract is here jamanetwork.com/journals/ja...

24 Replies
oldestnewest

Thanks Whisperit for posting this. Can really relate as my Ai disorder was triggered after a time of acute stress!. It's always heartening to read of new ways of treating these illnesses. Gives us hope doesn't it?. How are you doing on 24 mg steroids?. X

whisperit
whisperit
in reply to misty14

Yes, it's a shame the mechanisms and pathways involved are so complicated it's hard to understand how it fits together. After my recent post celebrating the return of near-normality on 24mg methyl pred, I woke up the following morning at 4am with the old symptoms of nausea, sweating, shaking etc. The last couple of days have been 'same old same old' creeping about etc. It's the hope that kills you :( Hope you're doing OK x

misty14
misty14
in reply to whisperit

Oh Whisperit that is so cruel and hard to live with. The docs really need to get to grips with this for you. I'm in a lot of pain, leg nerve injections on Monday thankfully and still battling abdomen pain and nausea!. It just goes on and on for us. Hope you enjoyed the footie!. X

whisperit
whisperit
in reply to misty14

Aww no! it sounds like you are having a really awful time, it's a real tribute to your strength and courage that you continue to be here for others. Let's hope we both start making some progress soon.

Not being English, the footie is of no real interest - but today was the first day of the Tour de France too, so I have enjoyed watching that. I decided to withdraw my own entry this year, to give the others a chance. x

misty14
misty14
in reply to whisperit

Thanks so much Whisperit for your very kind message. I haven't been on forum as much as I used to be . Where do you hail from then?. I know, you'll be back next year to give the cyclists a run for their money!. Ha!. Fingers tightly crossed for you too. Looking forward to further updates. X

whisperit
whisperit
in reply to misty14

I'm in Wales, misty. Funny enough there's a big cycling race going through town all day today. Do keep in touch yourself x

misty14
misty14
in reply to whisperit

OH goodness Whisperit, does that mean you have same problems as Wendy having access to Consultants?. Wales NHS is in a shocking mess and she's started this big campaign but shouldn't need to! Which part of Wales?. . Funny about the cyclists today. Our area in September is getting the Tour of Britain ones !. Is it the same?. I was only thinking like you must , as I watch the tennis and can't believe I ever played before the AI strike!. Hope your better today. X

Hidden
Hidden

Hi Mike. I’m travelling back home today but just been in midst of observing powerful family stresses and strains in the dynamics of my husband’s family surrounding the death and funeral of my mother in law. My brother in law suffers extremely from some kind of psychological disorder that has never, as far as we know, been acknowledged by him or treated by a doctor. My sister in law is same to a lesser degree. My husband’s twin has survived two types of life threatening cancer. Lots of stress around here as with most family gatherings of this kind- but no one even knows what autoimmune disorders are in his family, let alone from showing signs of suffering from any.

Professor Ian McInnes heads a research centre for rheumatic diseases in Glasgow and Malawi and told us at a talk that they are researching the epidemiology of tropical diseases such as Malaria, TB, Ebola and others with autoimmunity and I have read that Ebola survivors have a significantly increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases. So it makes sense to me that stress and autoimmunity are closely linked but I feel stress might be as much about physical illness, wars, displacement, infection as it is to do without mental health.

After all, when we speak of stress - aren’t most people living in the current times stressed out to a greater or lesser extent? I guess I say this as someone who was exposed to intense physical stress as a newborn and have lived with autoimmunity ever since so my perspective may well be different.

After all poverty makes people stressed, starvation and malnutrition are forms of stress that affect people to a greater or lesser extent the world over. Obesity is linked to stress and a multitude of health problems, including autoimmune diseases. Working very long hours, carrying huge responsibilities - all this is stressful as is being unemployed. And the prospects of diseases such as cancer, strokes, cardiovascular disease all make people very anxious.

But, as I think I’ve said to you before on here, I’m wary of this theory that autoimmune diseases correlate directly with psychological illness because of the risk that this theory becomes the prevailing assumption. I think so many factors, including psychological ones, can trigger autoimmunity. But the predisposition and our genetic make up must also be major factors too?

whisperit
whisperit
in reply to Hidden

There are so many confounding and complicating factors, aren't there? There are lots of lab animal studies that show that chronic stress promotes inflammatory processes and auto-immune markers. In some respects, we already know what makes us unhealthy without having to work out the physiological details - if we were to make improving the environment and equalising living conditions for everyone on the planet our top priorities (rather than always asking 'how can we make most money out of this situation?') than everyone's health would benefit. x

Hidden
Hidden
in reply to whisperit

I guess I am very sceptical of the stress correlation theory because I grew up with a mother who told me that all my childhood symptoms were psychosomatic due to various factors that weren’t actually the cause of mine at all - although I’m sure they didn’t help. This has meant that I only got diagnosed with autoimmunity much later in life. And the thought that I might have been given SSRIs at a young age fills me with horror! X

whisperit
whisperit
in reply to Hidden

As you say, the term, 'psychosomatic' has been used as a way of

implying that an experience is not 'real', or that it can be overcome by

simply thinking it away. I think the reality is that our minds are created by, and the expression of, our bodies. When we break a bone, it's not just a physical injury, and when we witness a traumatic sight, or are habitually told that we are inferior, it's not only our mental state that is affected. Sometimes, bruised emotions can be no more accessible to 'healing thoughts' or willpower than a black eye, and they are often much harder to repair.

To my mind, SSRIs are like every other drug. They are a deliberate, and more or less calculated, attempt to disrupt our self-regulation. There will always be a downside to that, but sometimes the balance of harms works out OK x

Hidden
Hidden
in reply to whisperit

Well personally I’ll only accept that there might be a psychological dimension to my symptoms if the suggestion or recognition comes from me. And even then I’m wary!

I was a very sickly youngster with severe separation anxiety - but which came first - chicken or egg? With my chemical sensitivities (mast cell activation I suspect) I’m quite certain that SSRIs would have left a disastrous legacy if they had been administered when all my hair fell out and my eczema went haywire.

And that’s the thing - we just don’t know what these drugs do to anyone long term? So excepting for very extreme cases - I would prefer that doctors (particularly non psychiatrists) keep the stress/ anxiety/ depression dimension out of autoimmune diagnostics and stick to medical science. X

whisperit
whisperit
in reply to Hidden

Yes, you might have heard how angry I've been when my medics have diverted discussion of symptoms into the 'how are you *feeling*/how is your mood?' direction. That's because this is invariably a sign that they have this binary thinking - 'It's either something i can treat medically, or it's something psychological'. My argument is that 'anxiety' or 'depression' are symptoms that need analysing as much as signs of an organic or situational problem as of a 'thinking' problem. So my chronic episodes of shaking, flushing, palpitations etc are almost identical to an 'anxiety attack'. This is because both are are symptoms of an acute adrenaline/neuro-endocrine transmitter imbalance. A useful way of thinking about these symptoms would be to consider all the possible causes of adrenaline/n-e transmitter rushes in a systematic way. Instead, a useless and annoying way is to label them 'anxiety attacks' and immediately exclude all but 'psychological' explanations. So in practice, I think I have the same reaction as you. Does that make sense?

SSRI prescription in teens is bedeviled by the general problems we have with childhood emotional/mental health. GPs are pressured to diagnose and medicate kids whose real problems lie in the circumstances of their wider lives .....x

Hidden
Hidden
in reply to whisperit

Yes I’m absolutely synced with you Mike. And I think that, where both children and adults are concerned, primary mental health issues should only be diagnosed by experts after all physiological aspects have been excluded. And secondary depression should be a very recognised feature of all autoimmune diseases and professional counselling and other therapies (including arts and sports) should be offered/ preserved routinely. I honestly believe that, by providing the equivalent in support to what Maggie’s Centres offer to those diagnosed with cancer, the NHS would save itself millions across the board in terms of drugs, GP appointments, dealing with letters of complaint etc etc. X

whisperit
whisperit
in reply to Hidden

Absolutely - it should be about holistic care, with equal expertise across the whole range of our lives. Otherwise, beware getting me started on child mental health - I may not shut up x

Hidden
Hidden
in reply to whisperit

If only we had real input into how health and care should and could be delivered Mike. But fire fighting and the increase in chronic illnesses are the wholly incompatible reality we are presently faced with it seems.

I do hope you have at least felt able to point out to your rheumy that he diagnosed you with Fibro incorrectly? If not do you think you will? X

whisperit
whisperit
in reply to Hidden

its all about lulling him into the optimal state to follow my wishes. soon i will be playing him like a violin....

Hidden
Hidden
in reply to whisperit

Lulling 🎻, full blown hypnotic trance - whatever it takes Mike. It is just so important that each misdiagnoses needs to lead to serious reflection on the part of the clinician. X

Hidden
Hidden
in reply to whisperit

I agree. I lost my previous functional Doctor, who was also an MD/physician. She doesn't want to deal with sick patients anymore and she moved away from us. These Drs all seem to be worried that GMC will "get them" somehow, like a witch hunt. Find them and boil them tactic until they keel over.

Indeed, some of these alternative DRs have been taken to some sort of official scrutiny. Status quo long lives to rule the world and the Sick at the expense of patients, who are merely body parts. It is not the actual Dr's fault, I reckon, but they are the product of an environment where they are expected to carry out exactly what they are told from the ABOVE, power that be. If they ever deviate, even slightly, they get punished. If physicians are given the freedom to treat patients, holistically, I'm sure many will heal and fewer people would be spending much time on one of these Hubs, full of patients who are battling with ILLNESSES AS WELL AS THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM (and not holistic way of treating patients).

My new Rheumy didn't even know which joints are affected according to "her record" which must be so shambolic. It is anti-holistic and they call themselves "doctors" because they got the degree and training. They all have this OCD on their diagnostics which they ought to know aren't 100% accurate. But they expect us to believe they are. The thing is, our environment has changed, we are far more informed than, let's say in 1950s or 60s. But they still act as if we are. That's not good enough for our time.

Unfortunately, functional Drs are very expensive, it is so untrue. They usually advertise the fees upfront. Greed comes to my mind. I wouldn't consider going to one of these "please expect £1200-2000" from start to finish." I'm currently thinking of going back to one of these 600 miles away If I could manage the travel. But I digress.

DJK99
DJK99
in reply to Hidden

Ditto... we weren't allowed to talk about our ailments at home - or go to the GP! Dad was a Christian Scientist and anything that was wrong with us wasn't reality (to him).. Mind you, when I had raging rashes he changed our diets to pure veg, meat and fruit, no sugar (in anything!), wheatgerm and freshly cracked nuts with grapefruit for breakfast, and a ton of the best vitamins. And got a juicer from the US and had a water purifier installed from the US. He was nuts in some ways, but clearly way ahead of his time - this was in the '60's! Have to say, I improved markedly.... and carried on with this diet (with a little red wine on top occasionally ;) to this day. I really feel this has helped my symptoms to be minimised - and in keeping with this particular post, my full on SLE came into being 5 years ago when I started a new job in social care - which nearly killed me! I was always a big sleeper (13 hrs no problem) and needed to stay in the dark due to migraines and light sensitivity, extrmely dry skin, huge joint issues - but the stress clearly was a huge factor in leading me to need medical attention... and get diagnosed with SLE. So, just this week, after some wrangling, I've dropped my days at work, and work at home as much as possible. Reasonable adjustments - and less income :(. BTW - my pa became friends with the NHS later in life when he needed them more! Stress is dis-ease............. definitely the body produces more cortisone, goes into fight or flight (well that was how it was in my job!) and produces an inflamed, unhappy body. It goes out of kilter and then, depending on your diet, intake of water and toxins (ie booze, cigs, drugs) and sleep etc, the bod cannot handle any other problems you have going on so well. It's common sense to me, but I could really have done with some cakes and sweets as a kid! ;). X

😀 @ the time machine!

The correlation is interesting. Short of building a time machine - I wonder what would happen to our physical health now if we could undo the effects of the trauma from the past?

whisperit
whisperit
in reply to maye1

that's a really interesting question, and not entirely theoretical. For instance, we know that there are periods later in life when the wiring of the neurones in our brains related to emotional responses like fear gets revised. So in theory, we might be able to find ways of encouraging them to rewire in ways that promote new neuro-endocrine pathways that are healing rather than damaging? Afaik, it's all a bit speculative atm x

Well, they don’t know the cause of AI. Likely a number of factors. It’s possible it’s a factor. I live in Canada where CDM means - we’ll get to you when you’re emergent.

I’ll try anything. Thanks for posting!

And sorry to hear the steroids are wearing off..

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