Three stages of stress response – Intro to Psychology

Three stages of stress response – Intro to Psychology

So, thanks Susan. So, how does our body respond to stress? Well, a physiologist by the name of Hans Selye studied this, and he discovered that there were in fact three distinct phases to the stress response. There’s the alarm, resistance and exhaustion. So, in stage one of the stress response, we have the alarm stage. And in this stage, we’re exposed to some kind of stress or stresser, and our body responds two ways. First, the sympathetic nervous system releases catecholamines. And secondly the adrenal glands of the of the HPA axis releases cortisol. Now and this is our bodies preparation to deal with the stress. But long term exposure to cortisol compromises our immune function as we saw with [UNKNOWN] Susan. So, our bodies can’t handle being in the alarm stage too long. We either die or we cope. And if we cope, we enter Stage two, called resistance. And in resistance, cortisol is still being released throughout our bodies. And this cortisol helps activate us, arouses us and maintains a response. Now, long term arousal though, is not good for our bodies, as we’ll see here more in a minute. So, in the third and final stage, we have exhaustion. And in the exhaustion stage, what’s going on is our body’s been trying to fight this threat for such a long time that we’ve become depleted of it’s resources. And we have no ability to fight off illness, because our immune system is compromised. In fact, I’m sure many of you have gotten sick during finals. That’s due to exhaustion and lowered immune response.

2 comments on “Three stages of stress response – Intro to Psychology

  1. Noah Vanderkleed Post author

    According to my textbook cortisol is released during the resistance stage, not the alarm stage. Epinephrine is what is released during the alarm stage.


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