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TED Talks Daily

The science behind how sickness shapes your mood | Keely Muscatell

Dec 1, 2023
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14:17
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Social neuroscientist Keely Muscatell discusses the interconnectedness of mood and the inflammatory system, explaining why sickness can lead to depression. She explores the impact of changes in the immune system on psychological well-being, social behavior, and the inflammatory response. Muscatell also discusses the influence of inflammation on social interactions, the role of stress, and how psychological stress can activate the immune system and affect mood.
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Quick takeaways

  • Sickness can affect our mood and social behavior due to the interconnectedness of our immune system and inflammatory response.
  • Inflammation may have an evolutionary purpose to prompt us to conserve energy by resting and prioritizing interactions with close support figures or loved ones.

Deep dives

Physiological changes during sickness affect mood and social behavior

During sickness, the physiological changes in our body not only cause physical symptoms like fever and fatigue but also shape our mood and social behavior. Research in social psychonuroimmunology reveals that changes in the immune system can signal the brain to think, feel, and act differently. Inflammation, driven by pro-inflammatory cytokines, not only causes physical symptoms but also makes us feel down, depressed, and socially withdrawn. This indicates the powerful influence the immune system has on our mood and social interactions.

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