Psychotherapy methods can improve immune system functions as well as lifestyle behaviors, a new study suggests. Psychosocial interventions like CBT have proven to be beneficial for mental and emotional health, but a new study found that it can also boost the immune system.
The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry and shows the connection between psychotherapy and the immune system. The researchers reviewed 55 clinical trials, involving 4,058 participants. The participants were tracked for the changes in the immune system during the period of Psychotherapy. They looked for different psychosocial interventions including CBT, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, and psychoeducation, and different markers of immune system function such as inflammation, viral load, antibody levels, and natural killer cell activity.
They found that during therapy, the immune system function was enhanced, and that remained so for around 6 months after the treatment. CBT or combined interventions had the best impact, but all intervention types played a role in improving the immune system function.
Most people consider it a disgrace to go to a counselor or undergo psychotherapy. If the different benefits are understood properly, it can help in fighting those stigmas and convincing people that therapy can help them, even if they don’t have a diagnosed medical condition.
If we address emotional and mental health issues, it can affect the immune system and inflammation levels, as it could result in changes in behavior. For instance, if you are empowered through therapy, you are more likely to make changes like exercising more, implementing anti-stress strategies, eating healthy foods, and improving your sleep.
These changes have been found to affect the immune system function in past research, mainly because they reduce inflammation and improve gut health, which is considered to be a big aspect of psychological well-being. When your mental health is improved, you adopt behaviors that improve your overall health. When the sleep quality is improved, the inflammation levels are reduced and gut health is improved.