Natural Reaction to Stress
NATURAL REACTION TO STRESS
When a person experiences stress attack, the brain responds by initiating numerous different responses including the dumping of a variety of chemicals to our blood stream. This gives a momentary boost to do whatever needs to be done to survive. If ignored, however, the person can have a heart attack or stroke.
Many people resort to drinking alcohol. They get depressed, find it difficult to sleep, experience chest pain. The body runs out of the immunity to fight illness and pains. So, very often, these persons die of disease such as cancer, pneumonia, etc. The stress will NEVER be identified as the cause of the death. Stress is the proxy killer; diseases always take the blame for it.
Doctors call the body’s reaction to stress as General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).
There are three stages to GAS.
Alarm reaction is the first stage of GAS. The body releases adrenaline and a variety of other psychological mechanisms to combat the stress and to stay in control. This is called fight response. The muscles become tense, the heart beats rapidly, the breathing and perspiration increases, the eyes dilate, the stomach may clench. Believe it or not, this is done by nature to protect you in case something bad occurs. Once the cause of the stress is gone, the body will go back to normal.
GAS goes to its second stage called resistance or adaptation if the cause of stress is not removed. This is the body’s response to long term protection due to the long implication of stress. It secretes further hormones that increase blood sugar levels to sustain energy and raise blood pressure. The adrenal cortex produces hormones called corticosteroids for this resistance reaction. Overdrive by the body's defense mechanism in this stage eventually leads to disease. If this adjustment continues for a sustained period of time without pauses of relaxation and rest to counter the stress response, sufferers become prone to fatigue, concentration lapses, irritability and lethargy as the effort to sustain arousal slides into negative stress.
Exhaustion is the third stage of GAS. In this critical stage, the body runs out of its reserve of body energy and immunity. Mental, physical and emotional resources suffer heavily. The body experiences "adrenal exhaustion". The blood sugar levels decrease as the adrenals become depleted, leading to decreased stress tolerance, progressive mental and physical exhaustion, illness and collapse.
The hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) chain of command has served humans well as a means of survival within the lifetime. However, for those suffering from chronic anxiety and depression this process malfunctions. Constant stress early in life interrupts the cycle. Instead of stopping once the crisis is over, the process continues, with the hypothalamus continuing to signal the adrenals to produce cortisol. The much cortisol production exhausts the stress scheme, resulting to fatigue and depression. It also interferes with serotonin activity, boosting the depressive effect.
Constant high levels of cortisol lead to suppression of the immune system through increased production of interleukin-6 (an immune-system messenger). This coincides with research findings indicating that stress and depression have a negative effect on the immune system. Subdued immunity makes the body more susceptible to everything from cold and flu to cancer.
For instance, the incidence of serious illness, including cancer, is significantly higher among people who have suffered the death of a spouse. Fortunately, this immune-suppression process can be corrected with psychotherapy, medication, or any number of other positive influences like care from loved ones that restore hope and a feeling of self-esteem. The ability of human beings to recover from adversity is remarkable, especially when the support from your friends and loved ones are always available.
Most often, those under severe, prolonged stress may contract diseases related to immune deficiency and may even die of these diseases. The death does not come from stress itself. What happens is that the body loses all its natural resistance and defense in its effort to ward off stress. And thus, the persons die of immune deficiency causes such as infection, cancer etc. It is very important that we recognize the cause for stresses and remove the causes to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Prolonged stress result into clogging of the arteries by the fat and cholesterol released by the body during the attempt to fight stress. This may result in a heart attack or you may suffer a stroke by losing blood supply to the brain. Many people start drinking to overcome or forget the stress. Stress can also manifest itself into a number of diseases – depression, headaches, insomnia, ulcers, asthma, and more.
Note: People may try to convince you that there are stresses that are very hard to avoid. That is not true. There may be difficult experiences you can't avoid in life, but your level of stress depends upon your reactive thinking. Try to observe two different people going through the same difficult experience and one may be completely stressed out and the other one at peace. Why? Because one is thinking honestly and truthfully and the other is not.
Be responsive! Act now, become more aware of your thinking, and correct yourself even out loud if you're not thinking truthfully or you may realized that “Prevention is better than cure” before its too late!