A Note from the Doctor

What is the Stress Response?

Whew….Do I really need to explain this?

You know what I’m talking about. That tightening of the muscles in your back when someone cuts you off in traffic.

It’s called the Stress Response (a.k.a. “fight or flight”) and it was first described in 1941 by Dr. Walter Cannon. This is the body’s physical response to danger. What happens is that when a threat is perceived (like being chased by a lion) your heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing increase. Your body is gearing up to run away from the lion. The blood is shunted to the organs that are vital to survival. Digestion is turned off. Your heart pounds. You release adrenalin and noradrenalin. You run….and hopefully out run the lion.

So, you see, the stress response is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, we actually need a certain amount of stress so that we can perform at our highest levels. The problem is when this “stress response” is perpetually turned on.

Chronic stress is a proven cause of chronic hypertension, insomnia, anxiety, depression, pre-menstrual syndrome, and chronic pain.

The good news is that you can take control. Yes, there are proven ways to turn off the stress response. I’ll discuss these in the next blog.

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6 Responses to What is the Stress Response?

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