Biological response to stress,

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  • Created by: Abitracey
  • Created on: 30-04-12 16:33

Stress is a biological and psychological response experienced on encountering a threat that we feel we do not have the resources to deal with.

A stressor is a stimulus (or threat) that causes stress e.g. exam, death of a loved one, moving house, loss of a job.

Sudden severe stress generally produces:

Ø  Increased heart rate

Ø  Increase in breathing (lungs dilate)

Ø  Decrease in digestive activity

Ø  Liver released glucose for energy

Firstly, our body judges a situation and decides whether or not it is stressful. This decision is made based on sensory input and processing (i.e. the things we see and hear in the situation) and also on stored memories (i.e. what happened the last time we were in a similar situation).

If the situation is judged as being stressful, the HYPOTHALAMUS (at the base of the brain) is activated.

The hypothalamus in the brain is in charge of the stress response. When a stress response is triggered, it sends signals to two other structures: the pituitary gland, and the adrenal medulla.

These short term responses are produced by The Fight or Flight Response via the Sympathomedullary Pathway (SAM). Long term stress is regulated by the Hypothalamic Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) system.

The Hypothalamic Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) System

  • The stressor


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