Stress 101 - General Adaptation Syndrome
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There are 3 stages of stress known as the
General Adaptation Syndrome.
Stage 1: Alarm
This stage is better known as "Fight, Flight" response. It is our survival reflex. When a stressor, (physical, environmental or emotional), is presented our subconscious mind, it starts the F & F response program. The reaction begins in the amygdala which triggers a neural response in the hypothalamus. The initial reaction is followed by activation of the pituitary gland and secretion of the hormone ACTH. The adrenal gland is activated almost simultaneously and releases the neurotransmitter epinephrine. The release of chemical messengers results in the production of the hormone cortisol. This increases the heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, dilates pupils, dilates bronchi and suppresses digestive system, the immune system, reproductive system . This is all done so that your body is prepared and ready to fight or flee from the threat.
Stage 2: Resistance
Resistance happens when stress continues for a longer period of time. Alarm is only meant to last a short period of time allowing the threat to pass and return the body to rest. During resistance which can also be named adaptation, the body resists and compensates as the parasympathetic nervous system attempts to return many physiological functions to normal levels while body focuses resources against the stressor that remains on alert. If during an extended period of stress an individual skips meals the body sees a threat of starvation and will adjust accordingly by slowing down the metabolism and digestive system.
Stage 3: Exhaustion
At this stage, the stress has become chronic in nature. The body is no longer able to adapt and the different systems are in disarray. The body is no longer able to protect itself. The immune system is no longer able to resist disease, reproductive system is diminished causing fertility issues, the cardiovascular system is run down increasing risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, the metabolic system as well is collapsing increasing risks of diabetes, obesity etc
That is how stress is linked to so many chronic conditions