|How Does Stress
Affect the Body?
Stress triggers the fight or
flight response within the body. Stress related
hormones are released into the blood: heart rate
increases, blood pressure goes up, breathing
becomes quicker and shallower, perspiration
increases, muscles tense, stomach acid level
goes up, blood sugar increases, cholesterol
levels rise and more.
Originally the stress response helped us survive
by increasing the ability to fight or the
ability to flee from an enemy. As men and women
have become more "civilized" we have learned to
control these powerful responses (see Signs of
Stress, next page). Over time, chronic stress
can lead to disease, a worsening of health
problems and even death.
Does stress cause wear and tear on the body?
Yes! Dr. Hans Selye describes this in his
three stages of the stress response, the general
1. Alarm stage: Prepares the body for the
fight or flight response.
2. Resistant stage: The body tries to
adjust to chronic stress.
3. Exhaustion stage: The body wears down
and becomes prone to disease.
50%-80% of all diseases are stress related.
Illness gives you stress!
What are the stress hormones?
Catecholamines (adrenaline and
noradrenaline) cause the body to ready for
action. The heart rate increases, blood vessels
constrict, blood clots easier, muscles tense,
breathing rate increases, pupils dilate, the
nerves are stimulated, and perspiration
increases. Long-term overproduction of these
chemicals can lead to ulcers, headaches,
increased pain, diabetes, asthma, heart disease,
sleeplessness and high blood pressure.
Cortisone causes the blood pressure to
increase, blood cholesterol to rise, slowing of
Vitamin D, weakening of the immune system,
increased glucose production, and slowed
digestion. Long-term overproduction of this
chemical can lead to hardening of the arteries,
osteoporosis, sugar diabetes, ulcers, rashes,
migraine or tension headaches and other