The Impact Of Stress

Acute or chronic stress can have a serious impact on a person’s emotional or physical wellbeing and can be a significant contributor to mental illness. Stress is a term that refers to the sum of the physical, mental, and emotional strains or tensions on a person. A stressor is defined as a stimulus or event that provokes a stress response in an organism. Stressors can be categorized as acute or chronic. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM-IV-TR) defines a psychosocial stressor as “any life event or life change that may be associated temporally (and perhaps causally) with the onset, occurrence, or exacerbation (worsening) of a mental disorder”. Hans Selye (1907-1982), a Canadian researcher was a pioneer in studying stress. Selye defined stress, in essence, as the rate of wear and tear on the body. He observed that an increasing number of people, particularly in the developed countries, die of so-called diseases of civilization, or degenerative diseases primarily caused by stress. In humans, the biochemical response to acute stress is known as the “fight-or-flight”activation of a section of the brain called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system, or HPA activates the release of steroid hormones which include cortisol, the primary stress hormone in humans. Neurotransmitters known as catecholamines are released which have three effects: They activate the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the limbic system that triggers an emotional response...

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