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stress and its effects on the body

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Susan Winfield Health Studies Stress This essay will discuss stress and the effect it has on our body, this will include General adaptation syndrome, Autonomic nervous system, and how major life changes cause stress in everyday life. Stress is very difficult to define it is the feeling of being overburdened; under pressure and so anxious that you cannot cope with everything in your life. The outside pressures on you start to interfere with the balance within your body resulting in illness, abnormal behaviour and even death. Factors that cause stress are called stressors for example a relationship breakdown or money problems, many of them are major conflicts or changes but some are everyday activities. The nervous system is different from any of the other systems within the body as it is the monitor of stress. If the nervous system senses a stressful situation it can cause physiological changes in the body. The human nervous system has two major divisions, the voluntary and the autonomic systems. The voluntary system is involved mainly with movement and sensation consisting of motor and sensory nerves. The autonomic system mainly controls functions that we have less conscious control over. These include the digestion of food, the blood pressure and the heart rate; these are split into two branches called the sympathetic and the parasympathetic branches. ...read more.


There are three stages he discovered: Alarm, Resistance and Exhaustion. The alarm stage is where we are surprised or threatened; there is an instant physical reaction, the Fight-or-Flight reaction. This prepares the body for a life-threatening situation, resources are taken from the digestive and immune system to more immediate muscular and emotional needs lowering the immune system and making us susceptible to disease. As the body becomes used to these stress levels, it becomes more resistance to disease, it tricks the body into thinking we can adapt to these stressful situations. However, only the immune system is fighting to keep up with demands forcing it to work at abnormally high levels. This exhaustion stage is also characterised by abnormal behaviour referred to as 'burn-out'. Eventually body systems start to fail the immune system becomes less efficient than normal and death usually follows from stress induced diseases such as heart disease. There are also two other ways stress can be appraised, known as Primary and Secondary appraisal. When the body first recognises signs of stress you begin to asses the situation to try to discover what is happening, this is known as primary appraisal. if the stressor continues we begin to asses resources available to us enabling us to cope with the situation, this is know as secondary appraisal. ...read more.


Although there is positive aspects to parenthood such as joy and happiness when you become a parent it is also stressfull knowing you are responsible for another person for a number of years. Things like first words and first steps and other general achievements can leave you feeling very proud of your child but it is also very hard work especially as babies that are completly dependent on you to look after them. Children are very time consuming and some parents especially new parents find it very stressfull when suddenly all there time is taken up as children need constant attention. Parents also in certain situations worry over the expensive of having a child, clothes, food, nappies,cribs, pushchairs, the basics for example are very expensive and can cause financial worry for parents. Certain decisions on how to bring there child up wont always be agreed upon by both parents and can sometimes cause a rift within a relationship. Stress is a major fact in a persons life we will all feel stressed at some point wheteher it be during education, work, or during one of the life changes stated above, marraige, divorce, death, and parenthood. Over a long term, distress can lead to diminished health to avoid this, is is clear that stress must be managed. When looking at Hans Seyles theory the General Adaptation Syndrome you can see his concepts are too vague and unmeasurable. ...read more.

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