The Physiology of Human Response to Stress

in StemSocial2 months ago

When we say stress, our mind naturally goes to the bad side of it. Yesterday, I saw a snake, and I almost collapsed. For minutes I froze at the spot, and was out of my skin. I didn't know what to do, or who to call. This is not the same for some people as they can respond to this type of external factor differently. Some will immediately be alerted to run, others will be alerted to attack and so on. Like my friend whom I told several hours whiles still in the shock of seeing a snake told me that he would have killed it at a blink of an eye. He said he was certain the next thing that would come to his mind was a way to protect himself, and in doing that, he would attack the snake so it doesn't attack him first. Well, we all have different ways at which our flight and fight hormones act to stresses, and let me quickly state that stress can be a good or bad thing. It is a good thing when it functions in the case of adaptation both in our body and to the environment. In the case our our organs, stress can allow cells to increase or replicate to accommodate the type of stress which is a good thing provided it doesn't become a tumor. in response to our environment is the fight and flight mode that occurs causing the adrenaline to pump and helping us with what didn't expect to do normally. Just as I just discussed the good of stress, so the bad of stress as well. When there is no period of rest between stressful occurrences making the stress elongated.

Dr Walter Bradford Cannon, was an American neurologist who did a lot of research on Homeostatic response of animals to threat or dangers, where he explained the flight or fight response which works both with the nervous system and the endocrine system. According to Hans Selye, Stress would be the body's non-specific reaction to any demand that its placed on.

With Stress in the Central Nervous system, the brain stem which controls heart rate and respiratory rate, while in the peripheral nervous system the autonomic nervous system which controls the flight and fight mode (the sympathetic nervous system) which has to do with the heart rate and blood pressure, while the parasympathetic nervous system controls the rest and digest and this slows down the heart rate and blood pressure. Stress affects homeostasis in the body, so anything both internal and external that affects the body homeostasis is regarded as a stressors. Stressors could be prolonged exposure to and external condition such as increased temperature, reduced temperature, surgery, exercise, emotional stress, and so on.

One hormone that does this work very well is cortisol which has a lot of effect on the systems of the body, as it increases awareness and arousal, and cognition creating awareness to the stress either by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system or through the nervous system. Cortisol when released increases the cardiovascular effect, respiratory rate, and decrease immune function, increases metabolic intermediates, decreasing digestion, and at the point of stress, there is a decreased desire for reproduction. Cortisol is involved in the prolonged response to stress. it is secreted from the adrenal cortex region with the help of the signals gotten from the pituitary and the but is coordinated by the hypothalamus. The Hypothalamus releases Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH), which activates the pituitary gland which will then activate the Adrenocorticotropic Hormone which then goes to the adrenal cortex to release cortisol. Stress causes the increase of other hormones epinephrine, and norepinerphrine.

The hypothalamus is the major region where decisions are made, as the stressful signals are sent to the hypothalamus which then stimulates the sympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system. The sympathetic response is mediated by nerves while the epinephrine response is mediated by endocrine glands. The hypothalamus sends the signal through the spinal cord in sympathetic activities or to the adrenal gland through the pituitary gland. The sympathetic response as I said previously increases cardiac output, ventilation increase, change in blood pressure, and increasing sweating, converting glycogen to give glucose.

let me quickly do this; the hypothalamus responds to tress by secreting hormones, the Limbic system respond to stress by creating emotional responses and activating the reticular activating system, the cerebral cortex responds to stress by increasing attention which then increases the processing of the threat, and the thalamus compliments the cerebral cortex by increasing sensory input such as hearing, smelling and seeing. During the alarm stage of the general adaptation syndrome, Catecholamines and cortisols are released and they activate the sympathetic nervous system which deals with flight or fight response. At this stage, hormones not necessary are not allowed such as the growth hormone, the reproductive hormone and other hormones not needed. Antidiuretic hormones are secreted to increase the fluid volume as well as maintain blood pressure in the body. In the resistance stage, the cortisol decreases as increase cortisol level can be harmful if secreted for a long time so it doesn't cause harm to the organs. During the Exhaustion stage, cells and tissues are degenerated. So while stress is good to help in survive, it can also be bad when excessive in the body beyond what the body can handle.



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