Long-term psychological, mental, or emotional stress can cause chronic inflammation throughout the body. Chronic stress can cause a condition known as glucocorticoid receptor resistance. In this condition, the immune cells stop responding to glucocorticoids, which are stress hormones. These stress hormones normally control inflammation. However, excessive stress can trigger an abnormal increase in their numbers. Immune cells can then become less responsive when exposed to too many of these hormones over long periods.
Chronic stress can also cause inflammation through an imbalance within the body known as oxidative stress. A gradual increase in certain stress hormones can lead to a spike in free radicals. While antioxidants in the body usually combat and control these dangerous molecules, they have less control over them in this scenario. The result is an inflammatory response throughout the body, as oxidative stress is a well-known risk for inflammation.