The Physiology of Stress

In the body, the stress response is mediated by the hypothalamic-adrenal-pituitary axis, or the HPA-axis for short.

When the body perceives stress, the HPA axis, along with the sympathetic nervous system, famous for its "fight of flight" response, are activated together.

Although the stress response is helpful and necessary when dealing with short lived stressors, issues result when the perceived stress remains sustained over a period of time. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) tends to dominate over its counter balance, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). As a result, the individual has difficulty settling back down to their normal physical and emotional state, even if the perceived stress is subsequently removed. Chiropractic care can aid in normalizing sympathetic nerve function.

The HPA-axis is responsible for releasing a hormone known as cortisol, most commonly known as the stress hormone. Cortisol has many diverse physiological functions that occur throughout the body, such as suppressing immune function, increasing blood glucose levels, and breaking down different body tissues. When the stressor is removed, cortisol levels drop and the body returns to its normal level of activity.

Problems result, however, if the perceived stress is not removed. Unless the body has a chance to recover, the effects of stress hormones tend to accumulate and build up. Chronic stress can cause result in either an over activation or an under activation of the HPA axis, depending on the individual. Over activation of the HPA axis may result in increased and sustained levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This in turn can result in a variety of symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Lowered immune response
  • Altered reproductive function
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Elevated triglyceride levels
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired memory
  • Central obesity
  • Loss of muscle tone and protein wasting
  • Bone mineral loss and impaired injury recovery.

In addition, people under stressed emotional states tend to have cravings for sweeter, higher fat foods and more energy dense meals. Without a corresponding increase in physical activity, these individuals tend to experience weight gain as a result.

Alternatively, the other type of stress response that an individual may experience is an under activation of the HPA axis. Symptoms associated with this state may include:

  • An increased risk of autoimmune diseases
  • An increased risk of inflammatory conditions
  • Apathy
  • Malaise/fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Reduced libido
  • Weight loss
  • Poor, restless sleep
  • Chronic pain
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • An inability to carry out routine tasks.

If the stress continues unabated, the body can actually experience adrenal fatigue, where the body can no longer deal adequately with the perceived stress. Commonly known as burnout, the body's ability to respond to any stress becomes compromised.

Although eliminating stress form one's life may be the most desired objective, it is not always practical. There are strategies that one may employ to deal with stress. In addition to getting adequate levels of physical activity, restful sleep and eating a well balanced diet, supplementation with adaptogens such as Prime One can be an effective strategy to help mitigate the deleterious effects of stress.

Author Bio: Dr. Rajiv Laroiya, B.Sc., D.C., F.I.C.P.A., is the Clinical Director of 2 Wellness Centers in Calgary Alberta. He is a Fellow of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, and many families across the nation have benefited from his treatments. In addition, he is a Consulting Expert for The Adaptogens for Life Group. For more information about health and stress and what to do, visit us at: http://www.parallelwellness.com and http://www.adaptogensforlife.com

In The News:

Stress management basics  Barbados Today
Remember the power of one  South Platte Sentinel
Connect Your Students to Academic Counseling  Webster University Newsroom
The importance of mental well-being  Borneo Bulletin Online
It's time to rethink stress management  People Management Magazine
Stress Management for Nurses  www.oncnursingnews.com/
Community calendar  Press of Atlantic City
SIT WIth John Roberts  Wave of Long Island

Beyond the Stress of Success - Access Your Thriving Zone

Genuine enthusiasm...real feeling of accomplishment...sense of satisfaction and fun. Welcome... Read More

Stress Management: How to Change Limiting Beliefs

Mark Twain once said, "It's not what we don't know... Read More

Stress Management: Declare Your Freedom To........................

1) Create the life you desireTwo of our most underdeveloped... Read More

Stress in the Workplace

Why are you so busy? Do you really have too... Read More

Stress Relief Through Charity

One of the best ways to relieve yourself from the... Read More

Energy - How to Have More of It

Something the successful business person needs is - lots of... Read More

Seven Simple Steps to a Stress-Free Start

Most of us lead busy lives, trying to successfully juggle... Read More

How To Stop Computers Stressing You Out

Of all the forms of stress in today's world, computer... Read More

Stress Management

Have you ever said the words, "This job/my life is... Read More

Squeeze To Relax!

This heading may seem like a contradiction in terms. How... Read More

Stress Mangement and Mastery: How to Defeat Sunday Night Syndrome

Picture the following scene:It's Sunday evening, the weekend is winding... Read More

10 Ways to Monitor Corporate Stress Levels

10 Ways to Monitor Corporate Stress LevelsGood military leaders work... Read More

Cancel Stress and Be Blessed!

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour... Read More

How Stress Effects Neurotransmitters

The brain uses feel-good transmitters called endorphins when managing daily... Read More

Recognize the Early Signs of Burnout

Most of us are trying to balance work, home, and... Read More

5 Stepst to Stress-Guard Your Family

Part 1: Recognize the importance of family stress managementJoe and... Read More

The Art of Worrying

I am worried. I have been biting my nails for... Read More

Stress Management: Workaholism is a Thief

Let's take a look at some of the more serious... Read More

Those Deceiving Emotions

Deceiving? You bet they are. How? Without your even knowing... Read More

Stress Management

Have you ever said the words, "This job/my life is... Read More

Busy Fish: Tips for Changing Your Day from Chaos to Calm

Syndicated columnist Dale Dauten recently wrote, "One of life's great... Read More

Training Your Mind For Better Business and Leisure

Training Your Mind For Better Business and LeisureModern life moves... Read More

Dialing M For Mindfulness

Looking for mindfulness? Who ya gonna call?Try dialing M.It's easy... Read More

Chastise Your Bread ? Kneading Dough is Excellent Stress Therapy

The day wasn't going well already. You know how it... Read More

Stress Symptoms

Stress relief and managementRecognizing stress symptoms can be a positive... Read More