Symptoms of Stress are Numerous

Stress is a both a psychological and a physiological response

The response is to events that upset our personal balance.

Causes of Stress

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What Happens?

The first symptom of stress is that the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” response. This happens when faced with a threat, be it physical safety or emotional equilibrium. What happens? The heart pounds in the chest, muscles tense up, and breathing rate becomes faster. In fact, every one of our senses is put on the alert.

The Fight or Flight Response?

A small part of the brain called the hypothalamus sets off a chemical alarm when danger it senses danger. The ‘fight-or-flight’ stress response results in a cascade of biological changes that prepare us for emergency action.

The sympathetic nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, ie cortisol, adrenaline and nor-epinephrine. These stress hormones flow through our blood stream, preparing us to either ‘flee’ or ‘fight’.

Physical Symptoms of Stress – these changes may occur:

  • Heart rate & blood flow to the large muscles increase so we can run faster and fight harder.
  • Blood vessels under the skin constrict to prevent blood loss in case of injury.
  • Pupils dilate so we can see better.
  • Blood sugar increases, giving us an energy boost and speeding up reaction time.

At the same time, body processes not essential to immediate survival are suppressed.

  • The digestive system slows down.
  • The reproductive system slow down.
  • Growth hormones switches off.
  • The immune response is inhibited.

This physiological and biological stress response is meant to protect and support us. In the Stone Age our ancestors survived the life-or-death situations they commonly faced in this way.

In the modern world, however, most of the stress we feel is in response to psychological rather than physical threats.

Examples of Stress Situations

For example, getting audited by the IRS qualify or losing your job is a stressful situation, but neither requires a ‘fight or flight’ response. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot make this distinction.

The warning bell rings whether we’re stressed over an argument with a friend, a IRS audit, or the responsibility of taking care of an extremely ill parent. To our bodies it is exactly as if we were cavemen confronting a ferocious lion. We go into automatic ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response – which is an automatic occurrence.

Actually, a good portion of the time we may be running on stress. Like, we rev up into emergency mode with every traffic jam, phone call from our supervisor, or news of a national crisis. There are daily responsibilities and worries that concern us



Life won’t change but your Attitude will!