There are two types of stress, there is Acute stress which is stress but for a very short amount of time for example having a fight or running away from the police. The other type of stress is Chronic stress which is stress over a long period of time, a good example of this is a long term debt or going through a divorce. For these two types of stress the body has two different ways of dealing with them. The Sympathetic Adrenal Medullary Axis ( SAM ) this deals with Acute Stress , the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis ( HPA ) this deals with Chronic stress. But before I continue we must first understand what a stressor is, a Stressor is simply any agent that causes stress to an organism.
I shall firstly go through what happens in your body when you are under Acute stress. The SAM firstly causes the fight or flight response this is when you make your decision to either stand and fight the stressor or run and evade the stressor. Then the Hypothalamus activates the Autonomic Nervous System which causes the Adrenal Medulla to release Adrenaline and Noradrenaline into the blood stream. This stimulates the body. Physiological changes occur such as: Increased oxygen and glucose to brain and muscles, Increased heart rate, Deeper respiration, dilating pupils and the blood flow is directed away from the digestive system. Giving the body the best ability to overcome the stressor. But a downfall to this is that it is only useful for a small amount of time and after the Adrenaline has wore off the body could feel tired and fatigue.
How our body reacts to Chronic stress is different to how our body reacts to Acute stress. Because our body’s are under continuous stress out body needs to maintain heightened and a maintainable energy supply. Firstly the Hypothalamus activates the Pituitary Gland which then causes the release of Adrenocorticotropic Hormone ( ACTH ), which acts on the Adrenal Cortex to release Cortisol and Glucose. This process causes the body to: Release Glucocorticoids into the liver to release stored glucose, this causes the immune system to be suppressed. Other effects include: Heightened and maintainable energy supply, lower pain sensitivity, lower immune response and a high blood pressure. This long lasting effect has a damaging effect on the body’s bones making them become harder but much more brittle, which means that bones could crack easier making your body weaker.
When stress had being on the body for such a long amount of time, our body becomes exhausted. This stage of stress is called The Exhaustion Stage. Because our body’s have just being under such extreme conditions for such a long amount of time it