How Emotions Impact Our Immune System And What We Can Learn From That In Tough Times

Emotions impact our health through many different pathways. During the 1980s, studies revealed that the brain is directly wired to the immune system. Furthermore, an effect of negative emotions such as depression and anxiety on the cells of the immune system in terms of the regulation of proinflammatory cytokine secretion has been found [1].

Negative emotions suppress parts of the immune system. This does not only lead to a higher risk of infection in the short-term, but it also causes long-term problems through damaging levels of inflammation. Such long-term problems might be diseases like coronary heart disease [2], osteoporosis [3] or cancer [4]. It seems clear that negative emotions have a negative impact on our health but what about positive emotions?


Positive Emotions – Good Immune System

Do Happiness and well-being impact the immune system and therefore our health in a positive way?

The short answer is yes. Various studies found an increase in the functioning of the immune system after a positive mood intervention [5]. Even though further research in the field of positive affect and the immune system is needed, the results are exciting. Such interventions were watching funny movies, listening to positive music or reflecting on positive personal experience. Emotions like joy, excitement and humour, therefore, make us more resistant. So, what do we do with all these scientific results now?

Well, first of all, think of something nice and heart-warming that happened to you during the last few days. As we just learned, the emotions triggered by this little exercise will improve your immune system. Then, think of possibilities to avoid negative emotions like anxiety. Improve your health by cutting out those negative thoughts and distractions and bring some Happiness into your life to stay healthy in the long-term.

Do you want to improve your Happiness day by day but just do not have the time to do the research and reading? We developed simple tools and tasks that will make you happier, more successful and healthier. Have a look at our Happiness Challenge or get in touch for further information.




[1] Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., McGuire, L., Robles, T. F., & Glaser, R. (2002). Emotions, morbidity, and mortality: new perspectives from psychoneuroimmunology. Annual review of psychology53(1), 83-107.

[2] Glassman, A. H., & Shapiro, P. A. (1998). Depression and the course of coronary artery disease. American Journal of Psychiatry155(1), 4-11.

[3] Michelson, D., Stratakis, C., Hill, L., Reynolds, J., Galliven, E., Chrousos, G., & Gold, P. (1996). Bone mineral density in women with depression. New England Journal of Medicine335(16), 1176-1181.

[4] Penninx, B. W., Guralnik, J. M., Havlik, R. J., Pahor, M., Ferrucci, L., Cerhan, J. R., & Wallace, R. B. (1998). Chronically depressed mood and cancer risk in older persons. Journal of the National Cancer Institute90(24), 1888-1893.

[5] Marsland, A. L., Pressman, S., & Cohen, S. 2007). Positive affect and immune function. Psychoneuroimmunology2, 761-779.