Stress -An Overview
To be a successful onsite interventionist and improve your chances of
mitigating the impact of your own exposure of this powerful material, a solid foundation
should be established. From this foundation you will draw your material
to inform, educate and understand, what at times, can be chaotic.
When we find ourselves in a position where we do not know what to do, we
become very vulnerable to injury. The first core efficiency is the Human
Stress -An Overview
This section will focus
on the dynamics of stress, its influence on our daily lives, the role
when there is the perception of danger, and the potential consequences
of stress and or stressful events. To effectively do clinical and
provide Onsite Services, stress needs to be understood.
"Without stress, there
would be no life". -Hans Selye
The term "stress" was coined by Hans Selye.
Hans was born in Vienna in 1907. Early on, in his second year of
medical school (1926), he began developing his now-famous theory of the
influence of stress on people's ability to cope with and adapt to the
pressures of injury and disease. He discovered that patients with a
variety of ailments manifested many similar symptoms, which he
ultimately attributed to their bodies' efforts to respond to the
stresses of being ill. He called this collection of symptoms--this
separate stress disease--stress syndrome, or the general adaptation
He spent a lifetime in continuing research on GAS and wrote some 30
books and more than 1,500 articles on stress and related problems,
including Stress without Distress (1974) and The Stress of
Life (1956). So impressive have his findings and theories been that
some authorities refer to him as "the Einstein of medicine."
A physician and endocrinologist with many honorary degrees for his
pioneering contributions to science, Selye also served as a Professor
and Director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at
the University of Montreal. More than anyone else, Selye has
demonstrated the role of emotional responses in causing or combating
much of the wear and tear experienced by human beings throughout their
lives. He died in 1982 in Montreal, where he had spent 50 years studying
the causes and consequences of stress.
General Adaptation Syndrome
Hans Selye noticed that patients in
the early stages of infectious diseases exhibited similar symptoms,
regardless of the type of disease they had. He later observed a set of
three common responses that occurred whenever any organism was injected
with a toxic substance: (1) the adrenal glands enlarged, (2) the lymph
nodes and other white blood cell producing organs swelled at first then
shrank, and (3) bleeding appeared in the stomach and intestines.
He called these three common responses the
General Adaptation Syndrome and proposed that certain changes take
place within the body during stress that disrupt normal physiologic
mechanisms and trigger an array of diseases. And no matter what type of
organism he looked at, from rats and monkeys to humans, he noticed that
physical and emotional stress induced a pattern that, if left untreated,
always leads to infection, illness, disease, and eventually death. The
figure below illustrates what Hans Selye observed.
As shown in the diagram, there are three stages in
Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome. Let's look at what happens during
each stage that makes us more susceptible to disease.
Stage 1. Alarm Reaction: Any physical or mental trauma will
trigger an immediate set of reactions that combat the stress. Because
the immune system is initially depressed, normal levels of resistance
are lowered, making us more susceptible to infection and disease. If the
stress is not severe or long-lasting, we bounce back and recover
Stage 2: Resistance: Eventually, sometimes rather quickly, we
adapt to stress, and there's actually a tendency to become more
resistant to illness and disease. Our immune system works overtime for
us during this period, trying to keep up with the demands placed upon
it. We become complacent about our situation and assume that we can
resist the effects of stress indefinitely. Therein lies the danger.
Believing that we are immune from the effects of stress, we typically
fail to do anything about it.
Stage 3: Exhaustion: Because our body is not able to maintain
homeostasis and the long-term resistance needed to combat stress, we
invariably develop a sudden drop in our resistance level. No one
experiences exactly the same resistance and tolerance to stress, but
everyone's immunity at some point collapses following prolonged stress
reactions. Life sustaining mechanisms slow down and sputter, organ
systems begin to break down, and stress-fighting reserves finally
succumb to what Selye called "diseases of adaptation."
The General Adaptation Syndrome is thought to be the main reason why
stress is such an abundant source of health problems. By changing the
way our body normally functions, stress disrupts the natural balance -
the homeostasis - crucial for well-being. (www.healthnewsnetwork.com).
Sources of Stress
Selye defines stress as the non-specific
response of the body to any demands made upon it. Each demand made on
the body is unique in that there is a definite response: when we are
cold, we shiver; when we are hot we perspire; a great muscular effort
increases the demands upon the heart and vascular system. However,
whatever the specific response, there is also activated a non-specific
response which is independent of the cause. For example: The woman, who
is told that her husband suddenly died, suffers a terrible mental
shock. If, sometime later, he walks into the room alive and well, she
experiences extreme joy. The specific results of the stress are
opposite, but the non-specific effect on the body is the same.
disturbed not by things, but the views of which they take of them."-