The History of Stress

The idea of “tension” is instilled in both academic and public discourse, producing a popular phenomenological term that is rarely defined. As accurately noted by Selye (1976 ), the creator of the term as we know it today, “everyone understands what tension is and no one understands what it is” (p. 692). The term “tension” emerged out of the field of engineering to explain the real physical strain placed on a structure. In the mid-1930s, nevertheless, the paper “A Syndrome Produced by Diverse Nocuous Agents” was released in Nature (Selye, 1936), which discussed experiments on rats who were provided “severe non-specific nocuous representatives,” or, “stress factors,” that included direct exposure to cold, surgical injury, spine shock, excessive muscular workout, or sub-lethal drug administration.Selyes discoveryIn his investigation, Selye (1936) discovered that after a rat was exposed to a stress factor, a normal “syndrome” appeared which was not related to the physical damage done by the stress factor. Selye noted that regardless of the type of stress factor to which the rats were exposed, two stages emerged after exposure: In the very first stage, 6-48 hours after the initial injury, among a myriad of symptoms, rats experienced a notable decrease in size of the thymus (the organ accountable for producing T cells, vital to immunity techniques). In the 2nd phase, beginning at 48 hours after the preliminary injury, it appeared the brain structures responsible for the production of the organisms development stopped to function in favor of other structures which would be more considerably needed, saving money the bodys resources. Selyes work would be seminal in exploring the biomarkers of stress and provide a driver for tension research in general.Emerging from this research study, the stress response proposed by Selye (1976) suggested that 3 synergistic aspects accompanied any particular stressor. These were: hypertrophy in the adrenal cortex (basically an augmentation in the structure of the brain which promotes androgen glucocorticoid production), atrophy in the lymphatic system (responsible for the defense of the immune system), and intestinal ulcers.The GAS modelIn noting the plentiful health concerns originated from “stress,” Selye (1976; 1980) developed the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) model, which recommended that the odd behavioral and physiological responses to tension are triggered by interrupting homeostasis, the bodys natural balance. The GAS model represent 3 distinct phases that trigger when one is under tension: the alarm reaction (comprised of the “shock” and “anti-shock” phase), resistance phase, and fatigue stage.Within homeostasis, the body adapts to small stress factors, however when a stressor surpasses the quantity of adaptation given up homeostasis, the body enters into the shock stage of the first stage, alarm, where cells in the hypothalamus begin to trigger, the considerate nerve system (which controls the bodys “sympathico- adrenal system,” otherwise called the “battle or flight” action) is suppressed.However, in the “anti-shock” stage, when the stressor continues, the understanding anxious system is triggered, and the “fight or flight” reaction takes place in an effort to best activate the bodys resources in case of danger. This takes place through the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenalcortical (HPA) axis.

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