As demonstrated in the previous sections, the relationship between stress and immune changes is complex. It is difficult to interpret mixed or contradictory findings due to the use of different types of stressors and different immune measures. Overall, stress appears to have an immunosuppressive effect. However, many personal and situational variables have been shown to moderate the relationship between stress and immunity, further complicating interpretation of the research. Perceived control, optimism, and social support all appear to be associated with buffering the effects of stress on immunity, although these variables can interact with each other and other variables to affect this relationship. In addition, although stress has consistently been associated with alterations in immunity, observed immune levels often remained in the normal range, leading many researchers to question the meaningfulness and impact of stress-related immune changes.



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