About Stress

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Stress is everywhere. From taking a test to dealing with a cranky customer service representative, dealing with the loss of a loved one, stress is impossible to avoid. It can be acute, such as the stress that occurs in the face of immediate danger, or it can be chronic when a person is dealing with a long-term stressful situation.

The Three Stages of Stress

An endocrinologist named Dr. Hans Selye outlined a three stage model of the body’s response to stress. He called his model the General Adaptation Syndrome. Understanding these three stages will give you a better idea as to the symptoms that occur with stress and how to manage them.

General Adaptation Syndrome:1. Alarm2. Resistance or Adaptation3. Exhaustion

The Alarm Stage:This is the “fight or flight” reaction to a particular stress. It may occur as a response to imminent danger, or it may be the first stressful reaction you feel upon hearing stressful news, such as the loss of a loved one. In this stage, your body physical reacts to the stress by releasing adrenaline to increase your heat and breathing rate and help you move quicker in a dangerous situation. A hormone called corticotropin is also released by the anterior pituitary gland to help the body prepare for danger. Other physical responses to stress include butterflies in your stomach, a rise in blood pressure, dilation in the eyes, dry mouth, tensing of muscles, and difficulty concentrating.

The Resistance or Adaptation Stage:During this stage, your body is still on alert for imminent danger. If this stage of stress becomes prolonged, such as when dealing with a long-term stressful situation, your body will become taxed by the physical responses. Over time, your immune system may become compromised, leaving you more susceptible to illness. It only takes a few days in the resistance and adaptation stage for the immune system to become weakened.

The Exhaustion Stage:The final stage in the General Adaptation Syndrome is the exhaustion stage where your body readjusts to normal. Additional hormones, called cortisols, are released to help relieve the damaging effects of stress. They are continually released until your body’s chemistry comes back into balance. These hormones ultimately suppress the immune system and have the potential to worsen biological and psychological diseases and disorders.

Diseases and Stress

Scientists have found a direct link between stress and the development of many physical illnesses and diseases. Emotional stress can weaken the immune and in the same regard, the reduction of stress can help to strengthen the immune system.

Clinical studies have shown that the body’s response to stress can produce the same arteriosclerosis risk that results from smoking or high cholesterol levels. This drastically increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. Stress has also been linked to the development and progression of cancer as it reduces the body’s natural ability to seek out and destroy malignant cells. Mental stress also makes it more difficult to withstand the exhausting treatments often required to treat cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Other diseases that have are associated with stress include type II diabetes, ulcers, respiratory dysfunction, infections, and depression.

Types of Stress

Stressors can be either external or internal. External stressors such as traffic jams, a death in the family, or a financial hardship, are often out of our direct control. Internal stressors on the other hand develop through our own personality traits and emotions. It is our ability to handle these internal and external stressors that determines the amount of stress we feel we have. Chemical substances such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, sugar, additives, drugs, and environmental toxins, put a further strain on the body and are further sources of stress.

Recognizing Stress

Physical signs of stress include dryness in the throat and mouth, tightened muscles in the neck shoulders and back, chronic neck and back pain, headaches or migraines, digestive disorders, shaking, muscle tics, sleep disorders, and fatigue. Mental symptoms of stress include difficulty concentrating, depression, pessimism, anxiety, or feelings of hopelessness. Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use can also be signs of stress.

Are You Stressed?

Does stress affect your daily life? Do you think you may need help in relieving stress and it’s detrimental effects on you body? Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you become easily overwhelmed by the amount of tasks you need to accomplish every day?2. Do you tend to blow up or lose control several times throughout the day, even when the situation does not require such as drastic response?3. Are you constantly exhausted and unable to get a good night’s sleep?4. Do you feel that you always have something to worry about, even things that are completely out of your control?

If you have answered yes to any or all of the questions, it may be time to get help. Fortunately, there are several techniques that you can use to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, pilates, exercise, dietary changes, and group discussions can all help you relieve stress, restore your overall health, and boost your immune system.

For more information on Dr. Group, stress, depression and anxiety please visit our website at http://www.stress-anxiety-depression.org

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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