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Word Count: 448
WHAT IS STRESS Stress is a combination of responses in the body Stress can be short-term acute or chronic Acute stress is the fight or flight response If a car is careening toward you at a high rate of speed you will or should experience acute stress It is when you experience so many common stressors such as heavy traffic noise money worries illnesses relationship problems rising crime rates or work frustrations that stress takes a chronic form In the short term stress can be vital Over time it turns destructive How destructive can stress be on your body Research has shown that prolonged stress can produce actual tissue changes and organ dysfunction With the new MRI magnetic resonance imaging techniques scientists are able to prove visibly that chronic stress can SHRINK an area in the brain called the hypothalamus Read More On This They have found that the brains of war veterans as well as women who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse have a marked reduction in the size of their hypothalamus Stress also affects your brain by releasing powerful chemical messengers called neurotransmitters such as dopamine norepinephrine and epinephrine also called adrenaline The hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal portion of your brain releases steroid hormones including the primary stress hormone cortisol Cortisol affects systems throughout your body including an increased heart rate Your heart lungs and circulatory system are influenced by the increased heart rate Blood flow may increase 300 to 400 percent Blood pressure increases and breathing becomes rapid Your mouth and throat may become dry Skin may become cool and clammy because blood flow is diverted away so it can support the heart and muscle tissues Even digestive activity shuts down Once again occasional stress is normal Once youve handled the situation the stress goes away and you heal from the episode But if stressors accumulate over time eventually the body becomes inefficient at handling even the least
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