Biological Factors involved in Stress

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Psychological and physical well-being and the overall quality of life are under a constant threat of stress and thus, psychological and medical sciences have long been concerned with studying stress response. Cox (1979) claimed that because of the poor understanding and defining it, the concept of stress tends to be rather elusive. The term, “stress”, commonly describes any physchological or physical alteration that deranges the organism’s homeostasis (or balance). This essay reviews some of the biological factors involved in stress and it has been organized in the following way. The paper begins by briefly introducing the concept of stress. It will then go on to discus and describe the automatic response (fight or flight reaction), hormonal changes and the effects of cortisol on heart rate, breathing, blood flow and immune system changes. Furthermore, I will discuss the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response system and finally, briefly highlighting the stress-induced effects on the hippocampus. Stress is responsible for producing a variety of physical symptoms that can cause discomfort to any part of the body. For instance, Carlson (2010) asserted that chest pain, muscle twitches, palpitations or even headaches could be all signs of an increase in stress. As a consequence, chronic pain becomes worse and more unbearable. Furthermore, one could argue that stress involves behavioural changes and emotional reactions as well and thus, stress if regarded as only bad; people seem to fail observing that it can have a positive impact on their lives as well (Rudinger, 1988). Moreover, as Pinel (2006) suggested, there is evidence that patterns of sleep, brain activity, mood, diet could suffer modification for people under treme... ... middle of paper ... ...roids and stress. In G. Finck (Ed.), Encyclopedia of stress (Vol. 1, pp. 570 –577). New York: Academic Press. Sveback, S., & Apter, M., J. (Eds.). (1997). Stress health: A reversal Theory Perspective. Washington DC: Taylor & Francis Bell, P., A., Greene, T., C., Fisher, J., D., & Baum, A. (1996). Environmental psychology (4th ed.). Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers Chalmers, N., Crawley, R., & Rose, S., P., R. (1971). The biological bases of behaviour. London: Harper & Row Lazarus, R. S. (1966). Psychological Stress and the Coping Process. New York: McGraw-Hill Levi, L. (1974). Stress, distress and psychosocial stimuli. In Mclean, A. & Thomas, C., C. (eds.). Occupational Stress. Illinois: Springfield Kristensen, T. S. (1996). Job stress and cardiovascular disease: A theoretical critical review. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1(3), 246-260

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