Support Your Immune System and Mental HealthApr 09, 2020
By Tim Culbert, MD, IFMCP
I've felt somewhat helpless and even a bit depressed at times, as I mull through all the factors at play with COVID-19. Many of the factors seem out of our control. It can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, we DO have some control.
It's important to take control over as many lifestyle factors as you can to positively influence your immune system response to the virus. Some experts have said that "how your body responds” to a COVID-19 viral infection is as important as “what effect the virus has biologically on your body.”
We want to help you respond most effectively, in every aspect of your being. That may sound a little "out there," but it's essential to remember how intimately linked the mind and body are.
For example, any infection we experience can, and often does, elicit a response called “sickness syndrome”. Dr. Marlynn Wei describes this phenomena:
“Illnesses like the flu or the common cold can closely mimic and cause depressive symptoms by activating your immune response and inflammation in your body. Our immune, neurologic, and psychological systems are closely intertwined. When there is a foreign invader in your body, [such as a] virus, your cells produce proinflammatory cytokines, non-antibody proteins that activate and organize your body’s immune response. These chemical proteins circulate throughout your body and communicate with your brain, which in turn produces its own cytokines. These brain cytokines lead to fever, fatigue, depressed mood, lack of appetite, lack of motivation, social withdrawal, poor concentration and altered sleeping patterns. In other words, the physical sickness caused by the inflammatory response significantly overlaps with depressive symptoms.”
That's why we're diving into the really concrete aspects of resilience in the Resilience Retreat (e.g., Week 3 gives a lot of attention to foods and exercise to support your physical body and immune system) alongside the less concrete (e.g., Week 5 explores the nature of suffering). These are the dynamic aspects of being your healthiest self. And they need to be tended to as much as possible during this pandemic.
We're here to help you. Head over to the Free Resilience Retreat for more.