How well your body responds to the COVID-19 vaccine may depend on what kind of shape you’re in — mentally and physically.
“We know, and there’s some research to suggest, that these vaccine responses are modifiable,” said Annelise Madison, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
The vaccine may not be as effective if you’re stressed out, anxious, depressed, sedentary or not eating right.
“It can take longer to develop antibody levels, and the protection may not last as long,” Madison said. “It can impact things, like side effects of getting the vaccine.”
Madison’s findings are based on a review of 49 human vaccine trials dating back 30 years.
“This generalizes across a wide variety of vaccines, which is why we think that it also would hold true for the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The review will be published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
“Stressed and anxious medical students took longer to develop their antibody response after being inoculated,” Madison said.
Long- and even short-term adjustments can make a difference.
“Take the time right now to invest in physical and mental health,” Madison said. “It doesn’t need to necessarily be months and months of exercise. In fact, getting enough sleep on the nights immediately before and after the vaccine is extremely important to immune response.”
If you have more time to prepare, Madison said eight weeks of mindfulness meditation is helpful.
Also helpful for people diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety is cognitive behavioral stress intervention.
“The mean successful intervention was six sessions in a total of about 280 minutes,” Madison said.
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