Reacting to Stress Biologically

By Gideon6ix | Personal Thoughts | 19 May 2021

     Throughout human existence, there has always been an idea that can actually cause harm to the body. Stress impacts the body on a daily basis. The ways stress attacks the body is through both physical and psychological approaches, there is no escape from stress and not being able to handle or maintain stress can have dire consequences. Work, family, loneliness, weight, attractiveness, lions, are just a few of the issues that may cause this phenomena. Not all stress is negative, many times it can save our lives. However, when it is not positive, it is vitally important to be aware of the power stress can have. In this paper, I will describe the two main types of stress, the biological impact they have on our bodies, and some methods for alleviating stress.

    According to (1), there are two main types of stress. The first is called acute stress. This is accepted as actually being a good type of stress that helps our bodies properly respond to life. It is our sense of what is going on around us, and helps us think about what to do in any given situation. Our bodies Automated Nervous System (ANS), responds to stress by increasing our adrenaline and other hormones that give us our “fight or flight response”. This response has been critical to human survival since the dawn of humankind.

    The other type of stress, which is almost always negative and more psychological, is called chronic stress. This is defined by the brain injury guide website noted above, as a state of ongoing psychological arousal due to a perceived threat. Essentially that chronic stress differs from acute in that it the body does not shut down its response to stress properly. Instead, pressure continue to pile on top of the other causing a psychological burden that even in itself is stress. Over time this will wreak havoc on the body and generally make life miserable for those afflicted.

    The types of stress each have similar effects on the human body. Stress has bio pathological effects ranging from the suppression of the immune system to neural damage.(2) The website, highlights many of the body’s responses.         

    The brain responds to acute stress by activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system (HPA). This system releases steroid hormones (Cortisol), when triggered by a stressful event. It also releases neurotransmitters that send messages throughout the body to select the best method of response quickly. These chemical transmitters also effect the short and long term memory. During a stressful event, most energy is used to deal with the situation at hand and it can be difficult to maintain awareness of one’s surroundings. After the event is over, the effects are rooted firmly in long-term memory so that if the situation arises again, the memory can be recalled and you can deal with the situation more effectively.

    The rest of the body responds in many different ways, heart rate and blood pressure increase, the lungs take in more oxygen to feed the muscles. The immune system kicks into gear readying white-blood cells for potential injury or infection. Stress also causes mouth dryness, because fluids are redirected to all the muscle groups were they are needed most. Naturally, the level of all these effects depends greatly on the level of danger. Once a stressful situation has passed, the body will return to normal hormone levels.  

    Most of the effects of chronic stress are the same, however they can be far more severe and have long-lasting consequences. Since our body does not decipher between physical and psychological threats, the body sometimes does not shut itself down as well compared to acute stress. (3) During periods of chronic stress, the body’s immune system is overworked and becomes weakened. This may lead to serious illness, or complications from infection. One may also find that they gain weight because the body is not metabolizing properly. In addition, diarrhea, loss of sex drive, and nausea are just some of the many symptoms related to chronic stress.

    Treatment of stress is critical to long-term health. The methods of treatment vary wildly depending on each person’s needs. Often, people are able to overcome stress on their own. However, there are professionals that devote themselves to the treatment of chronic stress. (4) Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be used for simple things such as sleeplessness, anxiety, and loss of appetite. Prescriptions for L-Carnitine and Carnosine, have been shown to help reduce stress at cellular levels. (5) A person may also exercise, read, and if needed, could to counseling of which there are a wide variety of types. It should be noted that there is no “best” way to deal with stress, and it may take a considerable amount of time. If chronic stress is allowed to take over your life, it may become fatal as your body will eventually give up.

    I found this topic interesting because I have felt the effects of stress my whole life. I have been in many potentially dangerous situations, and I was always curious of how my body always seemed to know what to do before I did. Through training and rehearsal, we teach our bodies how to handle stressful situations to a point where reflex takes over. If it were not for this type of stress, we would not react appropriately to perceived threats, which in turn could prove fatal. That is of course acute stress.

    I have also dealt with chronic stress most of my life. I find this type of stress much more difficult to control. I have always been an anxious person and my weight fluctuates accordingly. I went through a lot of trial and error, and have only recently been able to start dealing with this type of stress. I am very interested in finding ways to ease tension, relax, and enjoy life without worrying all the time. I also enjoy trying to help others identify and deal with stress so that they do not go through life unhappy.

    Whatever we do to our bodies physically, we should also remember that psychological issues can be just as harmful, if not more so. I have written about the types of stress, effects of stress on the body, and some brief ways to help ease the burden of chronic stress. I look forward to continue becoming more knowledgeable, and helping others pay attention to these issues as well.




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Entrepreneur, Crypto Enthusiast, Author, Minds Profile- Gideon6ix- Twitter- @gideon_6ix

Personal Thoughts
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