How Stress Effects Neurotransmitters
by: Bev Storer
The brain uses feel-good transmitters called endorphins when managing daily stress. When the brain requires larger amounts of endorphins to handle increased stress, the ratio of many of the other transmitters, one to another, becomes upset creating a chemical imbalance. We begin to feel stress more acutely — a sense of urgency and anxiety creates even more stress. As a result, harmful chemicals are released in our bodies that may do damage, causing more stress. This vicious cycle is called the “stress cycle.” Emotional fatigue might result and be experienced and felt as depression.
The body responds to emotional stress exactly as it responds to physical danger. Without our being aware of it, usually not feeling it at all, our bodies are continuously reacting to emotions such as frustration, irritation, resentment, hurt, grief and anxiety. We physiologically respond to these mental and emotional struggles with a primitive “fight or flight” response designed to prepare our bodies to face immediate danger. Today, we usually don’t fight, we usually don’t flee. Instead, the high-energy chemicals produced in many everyday situations insidiously boil inside us.
Most all of our body organs and functions react to stress.
Your body responds to stress with a series of physiological changes that may include increased adrenaline secretion, blood pressure elevation, heartbeat acceleration, and increased muscle tension. Digestion may slow or stop. It is likely that within one to two days after a stress-anxiety-anger reaction, physical symptoms will occur. Excessive stress could manifest into illness.
Increased adrenaline production causes the body to increase metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates to quickly produce energy for the body to use. The pituitary gland increases production of andrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which in turn stimulates the release of cortisone and cortisol hormones. These hormonal releases may inhibit the functioning of disease fighting white blood cells and suppress the immune system’s response.
According to NeuroGenesis, Inc., researchers estimate that stress contributes to as many as 80% of all major illnesses. Studies by the American Medical Association have shown stress to be a factor in over 75% of all illnesses today.
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