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Grief Can Weigh on Immune System in Older Folks, Study Says

Helping Older Adults with Grief

Story at-a-glance -

  • Older people are particularly at risk from weakened immune systems during the grieving process and are more likely to develop infections while grieving than younger people.
  • The disparity between young and old grievers seems to be due to a balance of two stress hormones, cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), which respond differently to grief with age
  • The function of illness-fighting white blood cells called neutrophils was reduced among the older bereaved study participants, which was the result of an imbalanced cortisol:DHEAS ratio
  • Sedentary behavior is linked to a 25 percent greater likelihood of being depressed compared to those who are active
  • Exercise is one of the best treatments for grief and may boost your mood, brain function, and immune system health

By Dr. Mercola

Experiencing the loss of a loved one takes a heavy toll on your emotional health, but it doesn’t stop there. The extreme stress that results during bereavement affects you physically, too, and can manifest as both chronic disease and acute illness.


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