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How Mental Health Can Impact Vaccine Efficacy

A discussion surrounding how environmental and behavioral factors can lower immune system responses.

In a recent study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, investigators demonstrated that depression, loneliness, stress and poor health behaviors can cause the immune system to become weakened, ultimately impacting how it responds to a vaccine.

In a conversation talking about these issues, Annelise Madison, a PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, discusses the immune systems response.

“What can happen with chronic stress, depression, loneliness, is that there are significant neuroendocrine changes that can happen, and these changes can happen systemically and impact both T-cell and antibody responses to vaccination,” Madison said.

Although this is having a severely negative impact on the population at large, there are many ways one can mitigate these issues.

“The good news is that there are things we can do. For instance, prioritizing sleep shortly before and after you get the vaccine can be so important for immune function. Same with exercise… these are ways in the short term we can boost our vaccine responses.”