Hi! I'm Stelios Pantazis. I'm a doctor and I specialize in medical nutrition and metabolic disorders. Today, we're talking about a study that claims that stress is associated with the occurrence of an autoimmune disease. I'm also suggesting possible solutions for dealing with stress, either you suffer from an autoimmune disease or not. Autoimmune diseases are characterised by the body's immunological attack against its own tissues. This attack leads to the destruction of the tissues, which may happen quickly. Therefore, if important tissues are destroyed, such as the heart, this will lead to death within a few hours. Fortunately, this happens very rarely. More often, the attack affects less important organs and tissues and it leads to a lower quality of life and not to death. When I studied medicine, the frequency of autoimmune diseases was limited. We rarely heard of such diseases. Later, this frequency increased significantly. There were various reasons that led to this increase. First of all, diseases the cause of which used to be unknown in the past were later classified as autoimmune. For example, when I studied medicine, many people suffered from hypothyroidism, while we didn't know why the thyroid was destroyed. In many of these cases, it was later proven that an autoimmune damage of the gland had pre-existed, for example, due to Hashimoto's disease. Similarly, when I studied medicine, psoriasis was not considered an autoimmune disease. Now, most experts believe that this condition is largely autoimmune. Another reason is that people now often get blood tests and find positive autoimmune antibodies in the results of their tests. Therefore, minor discomforts that we didn't pay much attention to in the past are now associated with autoimmune processes. It is estimated that a large part of the population suffers from some autoimmune disease, although in most cases, the symptoms are non-existent, very few or insignificant. Fortunately. Of course, it is believed that a significant reason why autoimmune diseases have increased is our lifestyle, namely diet and stress, which have changed dramatically over the last decades. Today, we're talking about stress and its association with autoimmune diseases. A study has been recently published that studied the chances of someone being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease one year after some psychiatric diagnosis. This study included more than 330,000 people. Approximately 1/3 of them had been diagnosed with a mental illness, 1/3 of them was a random sample of the respective population that hadn't been diagnosed, and the remaining 1/3 of them were siblings of those that had been diagnosed. The study has shown that people diagnosed with a mental illness developed an autoimmune disease approximately 40-50% more often than the two control groups. This is a significant and rather noteworthy result, because the study had a large number of participants and two control groups, which increases its reliability and significance. On the other hand, such studies cannot establish a causality, namely it doesn't prove that stress causes autoimmune diseases. There may be something else that better explains the results. For example, stressed people smoke more, which is known to increase the risk of autoimmune diseases. What would prove that stress increases the risk of autoimmune diseases is studies showing that in an autoimmune disease, the risk of flare reduces when the patient takes an anti-depressant, for example we'd have to find a group of people suffering from an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis, give an anti-depressant to half of them and a placebo to the remaining half, and find out if after 12 months, the participants of the group that took the anti-depressants had fewer flares of the disease. Fortunately, such studies have been carried out and they've shown that anti-depressants reduce flares in some autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. This is why patients suffering from multiple sclerosis often take anti-depressants. Therefore, this shows the association between stress and autoimmune diseases too. What can you do to reduce stress? For example, if you have a parent suffering from an autoimmune disease and you want to reduce your risk of autoimmune disease, by reducing stress, what can you do? This is the big challenge of our lives. Stress management. There are many ways to deal with stress, because there are many kinds of people. There's no single solution for everybody. There are many things you can combine in order to control stress. For example, exercise reduces stress, particularly the participation in exercise groups. Dance classes also help a lot. A healthy diet also reduces stress. This is one more reason for you to follow a healthy diet. Many people also use a hobby in order to reduce stress, such as ceramics, reading, handicrafts etc. Interaction with people you care about can help you too. Of course, some people do really good by doing all the above on their own. But some of us need the help or the guidance of an expert. Both are acceptable. Therefore, what helps is to approach this issue consciously, trying to deal with stress, to find out if you need help or you prefer to try on your own, and to find the first thing you want to try. It may not help you after all. Or you may not like it down the line. It's okay. Keep on searching. Keep your ears, eyes and mind open and don't reject things that may help without first thinking about it. You may even need to take drugs for a period of time. This is acceptable too. What's important is to properly manage stress, for better health and quality of life. If you thought this was interesting, please give us a thumbs up. 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