The Effectsof Stress on the

The Effectsof Stress on the Brain            Stressas technical term first appeared in the life science community in 1926 whenWalter B.

Cannon described it as a set of “external factors disruptinghomeostasis of a living organism” (Persson & Zakrisson,2016, p. 149). Sincethen, the concept of stress has rapidly developed and is the cause of many psychologicaland physical problems (Lupien & Lepage, 2001; Persson &Zakrisson, 2016).

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Stress is an inevitable part of life and according to Bourne (2011), peopleliving in Western society are experiencing more stress than ever before. We have all experienced stress at some point in our lives, but inextreme circumstances, stress leads to “numerous psychopathologies in humans,including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression,schizophrenia, and drug use relapse” (Kim, Pellman & Kim, 2015, p. 411).Acute vs. Chronic Stress            Persson and Zakrisson (2016) discuss the differencebetween acute and chronic stress. During an acute stress response, thesympathetic nervous system (SNS), or the adaptive system, is designed toprotect the body during a perceived threat.

The SNS activates the “fight orflight” response, in which the body decides between eitherfleeing a threatening life event or fighting it. The SNS also signals theadrenal glands to release hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) during the stressresponse. In this sense, the SNS stress response is critical for survival.

Theproblem arises when the SNS is stimulated too often (i.e. chronic or prolongedstress). Individuals who constantly perceive danger in their environments arein a constant state of alertness, which can cause harmful effects to our body.Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis and Stress            In response to stress, the corticotropinreleasing factor (CRF) is released from the hypothalamus, where it bindsto receptors at the pituitary gland and increases the release of 

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