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Physical effects of stress

Physicals effects of stress

Stress works much like a reflex in which the nervous system reacts by secreting hormones that naturally boost the body. 

 The effects related to stress and anxiety can be multiple and the consequences are sometimes devastating. In this article, we detail the different types of stress and the symptoms that we can associate with it:

Acute stress

Chronic stress

The physical reaction

The psychological impact

Prevent the episode of stress


1st step: the shock

  • the level of sugar in the blood collapses;
  • muscle tone also collapses;
  • the mind becomes confused;
  • physical manifestations appear.

2nd step: the reaction

When it perceives a threat, the body instantly activates the hypthalamus, a limbic brain structure that provides homeostasis, that is to say, the maintenance of biological constants (blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory). 

  • cognitive stimuli , such as physical stimuli (pain, cold, noise), and emotions perceived by the sense organs and the nervous system;
  • non-cognitive stimuli such as viruses and bacteria recognized by the immune system.

The prolongation of the reaction involves the support of the corticotropic axis (hypotalamus-pituitary-adrenal cortex) which increases the secretion of cortisol.
The production of cortisol will then be slowed down by the hippocampus, the structure of the temporal lobe of our brain. End of the stress episode.


If it is no longer a predator but a persistent stress , which regularly returns to the load, the activation of the organism tends to persist. It secretes hormones such as cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, endorphin

Indeed, the role of cortisol is to release sugar from the body’s reserves to cope with an increased demand for energy. It is thus responsible for an increase in the degradation of proteins, because to produce energy substrates, the organism which has exhausted its reserves of sugars and lipids, now attacks its own structures. This production of energy components results in:

  • an increase in glucose, triglycerides and blood cholesterol, causing cardiovascular disease;
  • an effect on immune capacities. Your natural defenses are weakening.

To overcome the negative effects of excessive and prolonged secretion of cortisol, the body has a regulatory mechanism: the hippocampus, structure of the temporal lobe of the brain, slows down the secretion of CRH (Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone *) by the ‘hypothalamus, which reduces that of cortisol, which is toxic to him.

This mechanism works for cases of acute stress. But under chronic stress, the hippocampus loses its ability to slow down the hypothalamus. The activation of the corticotropic axis tends to be sustained: cortisol remains high! the latter then manifests its anxiety-inducing and depressant power on us. It causes degradation of memory and our learning abilities. We reach what specialists call “the exhaustion phase”; the reactions of your ANS ** are no longer adapted to the demands of the environment.


The physique in the face of acute stress

During a period of intense stress, physical symptoms may appear pallor, tremors, profuse sweating, malaise, lump in the throat, tightness in the chest, knot in the stomach, digestive spasms, cold extremities.

The gestures are slow and heavy, the voice is altered, a feeling of euphoric relief appears at the same time as a loss of the capacities of evaluation and memorization. This is why it is always necessary to avoid, after having overcome a serious danger, to relax completely: it is the phenomenon of a secondary accidents. 


The harmful effects of stress on the physique

The hormonal storm triggered by stress is not harmful to the body if the situation improves, either because the stressors have disappeared or because the person concerned has faced them. 


The resources of the mind

the body provides substances to quickly take action or to withstand the shock. It is then necessary to mobilize psychic resources. It is the mind that governs motivation, combativeness, composure, and self-confidence!


The psyche in the face of different stresses

During acute stress, we instantly raise our level of alertness and focus our attention on danger. All the senses are on the alert. Psychic phenomena can appear : 
– a feeling of unreality of what has just happened; 
– painful psychic tension with lucid awareness of the situation experienced.

Conversely, in chronic stress, the following psychological disorders can disturb you : rumination of daily worries, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, feeling of empty head, anxiety, hyperemotivity, restlessness, feverishness, inhibition, inability to react to events , feelings of blocking any initiative.


The harmful effects of stress on the psyche

After a stress , we say that the emotion subsides.  It is then impossible to mobilize to act. If the stress persists and if no one is supporting it, a loss of self-confidence can occur.


The duration of an episode of stress can be limited and the physical or psychic damage attenuated, in particular by helping our organism with micro nutrition.


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