The Body's response to stress


SAM pathway - Acute stress

SNS activation leads to...

  • Increased pupil size 
  • Sweat glands produce more sweat
  • Glycogen is stored in the liver and coverted to glucose for energy 
  • Increase in heart rate 
  • Release of adrenaline by the adrenal medulla


This is when you are energised to fight or flee in response to an acute stressor - the body is prepared for this by the SAM pathway 

ANS - > SNS - > noradrenaline  (physical response see above)

ANS -> adrenal medulla -> adrenaline 

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Pituitary-adrenal system - Chronic stress

Perception of stressor by higher brain centres


CRF              |                         

Pituitary gland

ACTH          |                         

Adrenal cortext

CORT            |                         

Cortisol causes stress effects in the body (negative feedback)

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Consequences of the stress response

Cardivascular problems: If stress responses activated repeatedly heart and blood vessels suffer from abnormal wear + tear. Increased blood pressure (SNS activation) can lead to physical damage and increase likelihood of heart disease.

Immunosuppression: Too much cortisol suppresses the immune system, shutting down the process that fights infection. 

Individual differences: Males tend to have fight or flight while females have a tend and befriend response to stress. 

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