Road rage, heart attacks, migraine headaches, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, hair loss among women--stress is blamed for all those and many other ills. Nature provided our prehistoric ancestors with a tool to help them meet threats: a quick activation system that focused attention, quickened the heartbeat, dilated blood vessels and prepared muscles to fight or flee the bear stalking into their cave. But we, as modern people, are subjected to stress constantly from commuter traffic, deadlines, bills, angry bosses, irritable spouses, noise, as well as social pressure, physical sickness and mental challenges. Many organs in our bodies are consequently hit with a relentless barrage of alarm signals that can damage them and ruin our health.
What exactly happens in our brains and bodies when we are under stress? Which organs are activated? When do the alarms begin to cause critical problems? We are only now formulating a coherent model of how ongoing stress hurts us, yet in it we are finding possible clues to counteracting the attack.
This article was originally published with the title Sussing Out Stress.