One hundred years ago, the pioneering endocrinologist Hans Selye first defined the way the human body responds to stress. He articulated three occurrences that develop when humans are under prolonged stress:
- Multiple stomach ulcers develop.
- The adrenal glands enlarge four or five times from their protracted effort to produce copious bursts of adrenaline.
- The immune system (specifically the thymus, lymph nodes and the lymph tissue in the gut) atrophies.
None of which, is good.
When Selye refers to ‘prolonged stress’, he is referring to what is classified as Type 2 stress. There are two kinds of stress:
Type 1 is a prehistoric, hard-wired response to a simple stressor.
– The source of stress is definable. An example: a tiger running towards you.
– There is a specific action that can be taken, from which there is an accompanying reaction. (Run away or kill the tiger; eliminate the stress)
Type 2 is our modern-day, complex form of stress
– The source is not always identifiable.
– A vague sense of worry
– Ongoing, multi-faceted
The sad thing is the body doesn’t know the difference!
If you want to learn a lot about the biology of stress, take a few minutes to watch this very informative video from biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton.