Stress is a part of everyday living where we are exposed to situations that produce stress in our regular lifecycle. Different people have different type of understanding and reactions to events that make stress different for them. Stress is our body’s response to a situation whether it’s good or bad depending on restraint in performing day-to-day routine work, abnormality in behaviour, emotional outburst, psychology or physiological changes in living being.
When our body feels danger or some kind of change, it starts a defence system to protect us. This defence system is called a stress response. It is very important because in any dangerous situation it can give us that extra alertness or extra energy boost to make it through that situation safely or possibly save our life. On considering the definition of stress the ranges of stress are very confusing which can be defined in terms of pressure, tension, unpleasant external forces or an emotional response.
Stress is comprehended in a different way for different people on the basis of the situations they face every day. The causes of stress are called stressors which are surrounding conditions that have a corporeal and emotional demand on an individual. Stressors can be present in a work setting or in other life activities.
The most important fact to be considered is what stress means to one person out may not be stressful for another person. Some of the commonly studied stressors in children and adolescents are exposure to violence, abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, or neglect) and divorce/marital conflict. Anxiety, aggressiveness dyscontrol problems, hypo-immune dysfunction, mood disorders, structural changes in the CNS, medical morbidity and early death are some of the neurobiological effects caused due to exposure to the intense and chronic stressors during the developmental years.
Stress can be classified on the basis of certain criteria’s along with their impact on our health. Tension, headaches, emotional upsets, gastrointestinal disturbances, feelings of agitation and pressure is what most people identify as stress these are known as Acute stresses. which can be easily cured and can be brought under control in couple of weeks. There are certain features which particularly make the stress responses adaptive. First, for the body’s immediate use stress hormones are released which make energy stores available. Second, a new pattern of energy distribution emerges.
Energy is diverted to the tissues that become more active during stress, primarily the skeletal muscles and the brain including the immune system which are also activated for moving out to “battle stations”. Digestion and the production of growth and gonadal hormones are suspended as they are less critical activities. Episodic acute stress can lead to migraines, depression, hypertension, heart attack, anxiety, stroke and serious gastrointestinal distress during which eating, growth and sexual activity may be a detriment to physical integrity and even survival. General lifestyle readjustments, three to six months, and often requires professional help to control Episodic stress.
Chronic stress is the most serious of all, which is considered as the stress that never ends and grinds us down until our resistance is gone. Serious systemic illness such as diabetes increased blood pressure, decreased immunocompetence, perhaps cancer is its hallmark. It can be treated, but when reversed, it takes time – sometimes two to three years and often requires professional help. Increased risk of infections is due to the continuous increase in stress hormones which results in suppression of the immune system’s white blood cells.
Chronic SNS stimulation of the cardiovascular system due to stress leads to sustained increase in blood pressure and vascular hypertrophy which leads to elevated resting blood pressure and response stereotypy, or a tendency to respond to all types of stressors with a vascular response. Chronically elevated blood pressure forces the heart to work harder, which leads to hypertrophy of the left ventricle. Over time, the chronically elevated and rapidly shifting levels of blood pressure can lead to damage in arteries and plaque formation. The result of massive acute stress is Traumatic stress, the effects of which can reverberate through our systems for years.
There are many symptoms including physical, emotional, behavioural, and cognitive that stress can show up. The physical symptoms may include aches and pains, nausea, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and frequent colds. Emotional symptoms seen are moodiness, depression, feeling, sense of loneliness, and feeling overwhelmed. Behavioural symptoms may include eating more or less than usual, sleeping too much or too little, isolating yourself, using drugs or alcohol, and nervous habits. The cognitive symptoms could be memory problems, not being able to focus, poor judgment, racing thoughts, and constant worrying.
The brain’s stress response originates in the hypothalamus, which is located at the top part of the brain stem and is responsible for a number of regulatory functions linked, for example, with body temperature and the dispersal of hormones into the bloodstream. The sympathetic branch of ANS becomes active, and adrenal glands secrete epinephrine, NE and steroid stress hormones.
Epinephrine affects glucose metabolism, causing nutrients stored in muscles to become available to provide energy for strenuous exercise. The hypothalamus has a dynamic relationship with the pituitary gland that controls the human endocrine system and the adrenal glands which secrete adrenaline. Both of these are extremely important in maintaining the body’s hormonal balance and preventing bodily deterioration or disease. They are vital to the body’s fight-or-flight mechanism of self-preservation.
Stress reactions arise from the hypothalamus as natural physiological responses to stressful physical, psychological, or social situations. The physical stressors such as those that enact a fight-or-flight mechanism are temporary and involve sudden increases in glucose and adrenalin for energy. The other stress-related hormone is cortisol, a glucocorticoid (a hormone that has effects on metabolism) secreted by the adrenal cortex. It has been determined, however, that more long-lasting physical effects occur with psychological stress as a result of prolonged or excessive exposure to stress hormones.
The release of hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline, if excessive due to excessive lengths of stressful situations, can have negative consequences on bodily organs. Most of the harmful effects from stress were produced by prolonged secretion of glucocorticoids which include increased blood pressure, damage to muscle tissue, steroid diabetes, etc. including the destruction of neurons in field CA1 of the hippocampus, affecting memory in the long-term.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder caused by exposure to a situation of extreme danger and stress. Symptoms include recurrent dreams or recollections which can interfere with social activities and cause a feeling of hopelessness. Genetic factors play a role in a person’s susceptibility to developing PTSD and to be involved in an event that may cause PTSD. Found hippocampal damage in patients with PTSD with lower levels of cortisol, instead of assumed higher levels which can lead to cause brain damage.
Exposure to stress increases the number and sensitivity of glucocorticoid receptors in the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary. Instead, high levels of CRH may play a role in the development of PTSD. The way people react to potential stressors may affect the possibility that they will suffer from cardiovascular disease. They can cause constriction of coronary arteries, arrhythmias in a heartbeat, stimulation of platelet function (causes forming of clots), and increased viscosity of the blood.
The stress response can impair the function of the immune system. Study of interactions between the immune system and behaviour is called Psychoneuroimmunology. Stress increases the secretion of glucocorticoids, and these hormones directly suppress the activity of the immune system which resulted in lowered levels of antibodies. This suppression is largely mediated by glucocorticoids, which are mediated by neural activity. Since the immune system is suppressed, a person is more likely to develop illness after times of stress like such as Upper Respiratory Diseases, common cold, human immunodeficiency virus.
When a situation, people and events make excessive demands stress management is the ability to maintain and control. Stress cannot be avoided. It should not be avoided because without stress, there will be no attempt to try the difficult. One will give up much too easily. One will not succeed in doing even what one is easily capable of, because even the normal faculties will not come into play – like the goalkeeper if he remained relaxed even at the last minute. There are many aspects to take care of managing stress. We should not develop stress to the point that make us non-functional. We should try to get back to normal as quickly as we can and not continue to be in a state of stress for too long. The most important point is to recognize the source of negative stress.
This is not an admission of weakness or inability to cope rather it is a way to identify the problem and plan measures to overcome it. Finally, we should try to recognize that worry and anxiety will not modify the situation, but will only disturb one’s peace of mind and health. Some of the stress management techniques include changing our way of thinking and picturising situations. Get organised and assertive by changing the behaviour. Consider changing our diet, exercise, sleep into one which can bring us a change in lifestyle.
Stress is a vital concept for understanding both life and progression. All creatures face threats to homeostasis, which must be met with adaptive responses. Our future as individuals and as a species depends on our ability to adapt to potent stressors. It is clear that all of us are exposed to stressful situations at the societal, community, and interpersonal level.
How we meet these challenges will tell us about the health of our society and ourselves. Stress responses in young, healthy individuals may be adaptive and typically do not impose a health issue. Indeed, entities who are expectant and have good coping responses may benefit from such experiences and do well dealing with chronic stressors. In contrast, people who are biologically vulnerable because of age, genetic, or constitutional factors may lead to disease if they are faced with strong stressors which they can’t afford, mostly the case if the person has few psychosocial resources and poor coping skills.
There is much we do not yet know about the relationship between stress and health, however scientific findings being created within the areas of cognitive-emotional science, biology, neurobiology, psychotherapeutics, and drugs can bring doubtless results in improved health outcomes.
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