We all talk about stress when face a challenging situation. But, do we understand what we mean when we pronounce this word? What is stress? In biological psychology, stress is defined as acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. This differentiation is based on symptoms and duration. In this discussion, I would like to touch only acute and chronic types of stress, as they are connected to our physiological health.
Acute stress is recognized as the most commonly met form of stress being derived from life demands and tensions. This type of stress is commonly defined as emotional distress which includes irritability, anxiety and/or depression and certain somatic dysfunctions (e.g., tension headache, back pain, and stomach problems). In a situation of an immediate physical thread (acute stress situation), the organism activates certain functions triggered by an increase of releasing of stress hormones, where epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol are considered the most important ones.
Chronic stress occurs when an individual does not see a way out from an unpleasant situation or event and get used to stress. Based on the results from animal studies, chronic stress has been found to elicit profound changes in cardiac functioning which is primarily regulated by alterations in our nervous system. This type of stress is highly correlated to heart diseases. Chronic stress is typically associated with suppression of the immune system, including impaired responses to infectious disease and delayed wound healing. Recent works suggest that stress and depression can enhance production of pro-inﬂammatory cytokines, substances that regulate the body’s immune response.
Don’t let stress bring you down!
A partial extract from my upcoming book Stress and Health: What you need to know for your well-being
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