Stress Slow Killer is Serious Business
Stress Slow Killer affects us physically and emotionally. The stress response is mediated through HPA axis and activation of the autonomic nervous system. The aim is to mobilize energy for the “fight or flight” response. This brings about changes in almost all organs and tissues as a whole. In an acute event, after the stressor disappears, the homeostasis or internal equilibrium is regained. In case where the stress continues it leads to chronic disorders involving many organs and this also depends on the nature of stress.
The effects of Stress Slow Killer on each organ
Stress Slow Killer and the Nervous System:
Stress leads to activation of HPA axis once the hypothalamus receives signals from cerebral cortex which are perceived as stress. Then hypothalamus releases corticotropin releasing hormone which stimulates the anterior pituitary to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is secreted into the systemic circulation and stimulates the adrenal glands to produce stress hormone called cortisol.
There is stimulation of autonomic nervous system which is caused by direct stimulation of both sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. This is done by hypothalamus. The sympathetic activation leads to release of adrenaline and noradrenaline by the adrenal medulla. These hormones increase the heart rate, raise blood pressure, increase glucose levels in the blood and suppress digestive and reproductive functions. This stimulation is more obvious when the stressor is strong like acute pain. In people with chronic pain, this effect is weak and not clinically obvious unless there is aggravation of symptoms. After the stressor disappears, the parasympathetic nervous system helps in reverting back to normal and regain of internal equilibrium. The autonomic nervous system also interacts with the enteric nervous system and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Stress Slow Killer and the Musculoskeletal system
Due to the effect of stress, the muscle tone increases as the body is prepared for the “fight or flight” response. It results in tension headache and back pain.
Stress increases respiratory rate to increase the availability of oxygen to all organs and muscles so as to prepare for the stress response. This occurs due to direct stimulation of the respiratory center. An excessive stimulation may bring panic attack in some individuals.
Stress Slow Killer and the Cardiovascular system
Acute stress causes activation of the cardiovascular system. This occurs mainly due to release of noradrenaline and adrenaline from the adrenal medulla. These hormones act on the heart to produce the effects which include rapid heart rate, stronger contractions of heart and palpitations. The blood flow to the skeletal muscles and heart increases due to dilatation of blood vessels. These changes occur with acute stress.
Chronic stress is associated with inflammation of arteries of heart (coronary arteries) and may lead to heart attack. There is also higher incidence of hypertension, stroke and atherosclerosis.
Stress Slow Killer and the Endocrine system
Stress related ACTH stimulation results in enlargement of adrenal glands which are required to produce increased amounts of stress hormones. The adrenal cortex produces cortisol and adrenal medulla secretes noradrenaline and adrenaline. These three adrenal hormones play a crucial role in the stress response.
Stress Slow Killer and the Gastrointestinal system
Stress promotes increased consumption of palatable food. Severe stress is associated with nausea and vomiting. It may result in reflux esophagitis. Under the effects of cortisol and adrenaline, liver produces more glucose which is used for energy production by various organs and skeletal muscles. Stress affects digestion adversely and may modulate gut motility to produce diarrhea or constipation.
The stress response leads to suppression of reproductive function. Chronic stress impairs testosterone secretion in the testes. The sperm production is reduced and infertility may occur. In women, the menstrual cycles become irregular and painful or may develop complete amenorrhea. The sexual desire is reduced significantly.
Stress Slow Killer and the Immune system
Stress leads to suppression of immunity so as to conserve energy. In case of chronic stress, this increases the risk of infections due to poor immunity.
Stress Slow Killer and the Cellular and molecular effects of stress
Stress increases intracellular calcium. This effect is seen in association with message induced stress which stimulates the mast cells to release histamine which causes local vasodilatation and improves perfusion.
On exposure to stress, the cells generate heat shock proteins which promote cell survival. Exposure of cells to temperature of 3 to 5 °C above normal, reactive oxygen species causes induction of heat shock proteins 27 and 70. These proteins inhibit apoptosis and promote survival.
Apoptosis or programmed cell death occurs if a cell is partially damages due to stress or fails to sustain stress. During this process, special enzymes called caspases are activated which bring about protein changes resulting in cell death.
Autophagy is characterised by self-destruction of cell organelles like mitochondria and cytoplasmic proteins. Autophagy is observed in cells exposed to stressors like starvation, ischemia reperfusion injury, increased intracellular calcium and endoplasmic reticulum stress.
So Stress Slow Killer affects each system in the body, each organ and each cell.
Stress Slow Killer is Serious Business