Stress, Portrait of a Killer
Failure to Respond Adequately to the Surroundings



 
Stress, Portrait of a Killer
Failure to Respond Adequately to the Surroundings

 
Measuring stress level independent of differences in people's personalities has been inherently difficult: Some people are able to process many stressors simultaneously, while others can barely address a few.

Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance.

It refers to the consequence of the failure of an organism — human or other animal — to respond adequately to mental, emotional, or physical demands, whether actual or imagined.

The term stress was first employed in a biological context by the endocrinologist Hans Selye in the 1930s. He later broadened and popularized the concept to include inadequate physiological response to any demand.

In his usage stress refers to a condition and stressor to the stimulus causing it. It covers a wide range of phenomena, from mild irritation to drastic dysfunction that may cause severe health breakdown.

Physiologists define stress as how the body reacts to a stressor, real or imagined, a stimulus that causes stress. Acute stressors affect an organism in the short term; chronic stressors over the longer term. Selye researched the effects of stress.

Alarm

Alarm is the first stage. When the threat or stressor is identified or realized, the body's stress response is a state of alarm. During this stage, adrenaline will be produced in order to bring about the fight-or-flight response. There is also some activation of the HPA axis, producing cortisol.

Resistance

Resistance is the second stage. If the stressor persists, it becomes necessary to attempt some means of coping with the stress. Although the body begins to try to adapt to the strains or demands of the environment, the body cannot keep this up indefinitely, so its resources are gradually depleted.

Exhaustion

Exhaustion is the third and final stage in the GAS model. At this point, all of the body's resources are eventually depleted and the body is unable to maintain normal function. The initial autonomic nervous system symptoms may reappear (sweating, raised heart rate, etc.).

If stage three is extended, long-term damage may result, as the body's immune system becomes exhausted, and bodily functions become impaired, resulting in decompensation.

The result can manifest itself in obvious illnesses such as ulcers, depression, diabetes, trouble with the digestive system, or even cardiovascular problems, along with other mental illnesses.



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Responses to stress include adaptation, psychological coping such as stress management, anxiety, and depression.

Over the long term, distress can lead to diminished health and/or increased propensity to illness; to avoid this, stress must be managed.

Stress management encompasses techniques intended to equip a person with effective coping mechanisms for dealing with psychological stress, with stress defined as a person's physiological response to an internal or external stimulus that triggers the fight-or-flight response.

Stress management is effective when a person uses strategies to cope with or alter stressful situations. There are several ways of coping with stress, such as controlling the source of stress or learning to set limits and to say "No" to some demands that bosses or family members may make.

A person's capacity to tolerate the source of stress may be increased by thinking about another topic such as a hobby, listening to music, or spending time in a wilderness.