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 tremendous stress. Additionally, psychologists claim that stress plays an important role in infectious disease by reducing one’s resistance to infection. The trouble begins when multiple life incidents hit us all at once and this is because during periods of dramatic changes, individuals are more vulnerable to stress (Jones & Bright, 2001). Therefore, stress has got the ability to activate pretty every system within the body, however, through a rather rudimentary mechanism which lies within the cellular level (Shreedhar et al., 2010).
Humans experience similar dramatic physiological stress responses as other species. That is to say, the physique response to a stressor prepares the body for rapid physical action (fight or flight). More rarely, as Rudinger (1988) argue, sitting paralysed by fear may constitute another response to stress. The fight or flee stress response involve extremely rapid, virtually immediate, changes within the muscular systems and organs (Pinel, 2006).
When the sense organs (of hearing or sight) receive the “alarm signal” they instantly pass it to the brain. Then the brain sends messages to the muscles and organs and therefore, muscles contract, often very abruptly. If the state of alertness is...