Re: Relationship between stress and the onset of ocular myasthenia gravis
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Posted by ccf neuro M.D.* on August 29, 1997 at 19:45:14:
In Reply to: Relationship between stress and the onset of ocular myasthenia gravis posted by FRANCES GABLE, RN on August 28, 1997 at 17:04:44:
Iam researching the relationship between severe stress (resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder) and the onset or unmasking of ocular myasthenia gravis. Is there a relationship between the stress and the weakening of the autoimmune system thus facilitating the presentation of the underlying disease? If so, where might I find the documentation?
Frances Gable, RN
There is absoultely NO doubt that there is a critical link between stress and autoiimune and other immune disorders. Ask almost anyone with a chronic medical illness of any type what makes the illness worse, and stress is virtually assured to be one of the factors. Although I cannot provide you with specific references as this is not my specific area of expertise as a neurologist, experiments have been done demonstrating alterations in the numbers of white blood cells, function of white blood cells, and ratio of types of white blood cells during times of stress. The most classic study is one that looked at these parameters in medical students (ouch! brings back bad memories) just before their final exams; it is quoted in almost every textbook of psychiatry. I am not aware of any particular study regarding the effect of stress and myesthenia gravis specifically, but often such autoimmune illnesses are preceeded by a major bout of stress, trauma/surgery, or viral illness, all of which affect the immune system and serve as the "trigger" event that sets off or unmasks the particular illness the patient is genetically and/or environmentally predisposed to. It is noteworthy that ocular myesthenia gravis has an association with autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), which is why thyroid function tests are often routinely checked upon diagnosis of myesthenia. As you are a health care professional yourself, you are no doubt familiar with the Medline search service available at any health science library or medical center. I would suggest that you do a search, combining the terms "myesthenia gravis" and various terms for stress (psychosomatic, psychological factors etc.). This should yield articles if any indeed exist---- if not, your research may be the first of its specific kind, in which case we'll all be indebted to you for your findings!!
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