What is chronic stress

Stress is an important defense mechanism. A perceived threat sets off a series of chemical reactions that are designed to make your body able to respond to the flight or fight response. Is this a threat you are going to stay and fight or are you going to run. Either way your brain is getting your body prepared in a matter of seconds.

Chain reaction to stress

It begins in the brain with the hypothalamus. The brain chemistry begins to send messages for the release of hormones.  The adrenal glands get the message and release a hormone called adrenaline.

Your body reacts to this hormone in a number of ways that would help you if you needed to run away or  fight for your life. That is the experience brain chemistry is having to stress. Your heart rate goes up. Your blood pressure rises. It is an immediate burst of nervous energy.

Cortisol, another hormone, increases the glucose levels in the blood stream. The energy is now focused on tissue repair and taken away from some of the normal life sustaining jobs. For example,  your digestive system is interpreted. Your immune system is not running full force. Your resources are being used to fight or flight.

Reactions to stress

Reactions to stress are not exactly the same for each person. There are contributing factors. Some of them you have control over and others you are hardwired with.

Your genes control your stress response. There can be overactive and under-active stress responses that you are born with. That is your genetic makeup.

Life experiences can also play a role. Those who have traumatic issues are more likely to have a stronger reaction to stress.

What makes stress chronic

The term chronic means that the stress is almost constant or happens frequently. This can have many causes. It could be that you view many situations as extreme. It could be that you are in a very stressful situation. Chronic stress is hard on your body. Damage can occur as the hormonal changes cause the  body to  constantly be on alert.
If you suspect you are suffering from chronic stress a visit to your physician is a good place to start exploring options for help.


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