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Health And Safety Definition Of Stress

Stress and Health: Defining

Stress is a condition resulting from certain psychological events (trauma, anxiety, anger, frustration, grief, overwork, depression, etc. ...) or biological (surgery, variations in temperature. In the body causing changes may be the cause of more or less serious disturbances, such as depression of the immune system.

What happens there in our body during stress? Can schematize the stress reactions trigger by classifying them into two categories according to their purpose?

1 - body adapting to the situation to respond optimally: for example, when one is assaulted, physically defend themselves or flee.

2 - decrease pain during physical stress.

For this, it is necessary that certain hormones are secreted: it is they that will trigger physiological responses.

To return to our example:

1 - During an attack, adrenaline (a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands) will cause rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and vessel contraction of certain muscles, releasing sugar blood. ... all these reactions designed to put the body on alert and action.

2 - When the stress of pain, endorphins (morphine kinds of natural, secreted by the hypothalamus, in particular) will block the transmission of pain sensation between the area where the pain is caused and when it is perceived by the brain.

The adrenaline and endorphins are obviously not the only hormones that occur during stress.

You can also include, among others:

  • cortisol (cortisone naturally secreted by the adrenal glands), which mobilizes energy reserves of the body corticotropin (secreted by the hypothalamus) that activates the pituitary noradrenaline.
  • These hormones have in common that participate in the response to stress, but also to curb the immune response. 

What is the relationship between stress and the immune system?
We do not know the exact relationship between the different types of cells (immune, nervous and hormonal): it seems; however, that too much stress is the cause of a failure of the immune system (which becomes less able to defend the body against attacks of all kinds). Thus, macrophages, a variety of white blood cells destined to participate in the defense of our body against microbes, suddenly become very lazy during depression, for example.

Researchers have particularly highlighted as:

  • high levels of endorphins are causing a decrease in the activity of certain types of white blood cells called natural killer cells in the body.
  • Adrenaline and cortisol (natural hormone, cortisone is the body) produced by the adrenal glands (located above each kidney) reduce the potential defense of another variety of white blood cells T.

Stress and disease

Recently, there has been evidence that there is a close relationship between stress and disease in general.

On cortisol for example, the mechanism seems to be the following: cortisol circulates through the blood of the adrenal glands to the brain. There, it binds to many neurons and triggers reactions in nerve cells. Among these reactions, there is such a major release of Ca2 + (ionized calcium). However, an excess of calcium can be harmful to cells: neurons in calcium overloaded die. Therefore, chronic stress caused premature aging of the brain.

Immune system or hematopoietic system: the origin of the manufacture of cells involved in the body's defense.
It consists of:

  • thymus (organ located between the neck and chest, causing the formation of a variety of white blood cell)
  • bone marrow
  • the spleen
  • lymph

A priori, there is no relationship between the immune system responsible for defending the body against external aggressions (microbial or other), and the nervous system in general.

However, all of its components is closely related to the autonomic nervous system (self-regulated). Indeed, U.S. researchers have revealed the presence of neurotransmitters may bind to immune cells and allowing them to grow more effectively to destroy the invaders (germs). A neurotransmitter is a chemical substance (also called neurotransmitter) produced by the body and allow nerve cells (neurons) to transmit nerve impulses (messages) between them or between a neuron and a variety of other cells in the body (muscles, glands). Researchers have shown that hormones secreted by the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain is somehow the "leader" of the other glands in the body) are likely to increase or inhibit the ability of immune cells to fight against the disease.

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