Body Response to Stress

Stress is usually considered as a normal physiological reaction to certain situations. In fact, it can even help develop the body’s coping mechanism. But there is only so much of stress that the body can cope up with. Experiencing too much stress over a long period of time is not normal and can seriously affect the body later on.

The Body Under Stress

Sometimes, the best way to fight off too much stress is to know how it affects the body. Understanding what is going on in the body when it is under stress can give you a good idea of how it can cause some of the problems it is known to cause over time. The knowledge may help you find better ways to gain control over your body and your life in order to reduce the stress that you are experiencing.

First of all, the normal response of the body to stress is actually meant to protect it from perceived threats. From ancient ancestors, the threats were predators and other aggressors. The stress reaction then would have been quite essential to the survival of the species. And currently, this is still more or less how the body reacts to stressors even though they might now be considered as the lesser threats.

Chemical Response

The reaction to stress and its effects are due in part to the chemical responses inside your body during such situations. In a stressful situation, the body usually reacts by releasing a sudden surge of hormones that include cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. It increases the glucose level in the bloodstream, preparing the body for possible "fight or flight" reaction.

Cortisol also helps increase the brain’s use of glucose as well as more still left for possible use for tissue repair. Not only that, cortisol also helps hold back certain functions in the body that it deems as not essential during times of stress. Some of the functions may include the immune system, the digestive system, the reproductive and growth processes. Another hormone that is produced more by the body in times of stress is adrenaline. This hormone can increase the heart rate, elevate the blood pressure as well as boost the body’s energy supply.

Response To Prolonged Stress

The body’s response to stress is considered quite okay if it happens only for a short time. The body’s own stress response system can also regulate its functions and brings back the previous hormone levels and functions back to normal once the perceived threat is gone.

The problem only arises when you start to undergo prolonged stress that can stretch out for longer periods of time. This can make the body’s stress response system to continuously be turned on. This can lead to prolonged exposure to higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline that can disrupt many of the body’s major processes. Some of the problems that this can cause include sleep problems, digestive problems, depression, as well as increased risk of heart disease.