Talk:Stress (biology)

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Distinction required?[edit]

Do we need to distinguish between the vague psychological use of the word and the medical concept of physiological stress -- the two are closely connected, but one is fuzzy, and the other has measurable characteristics. -- The Anome 12:43, 4 Nov 2003 (UTC)

This page now merges together some of the stuff that was previously scattered. It's still not very good. We need more mention of modern knowledge of the behavior of the HPA axis and corticosteroids. However, I am not an expert. Any doctors or biologists in the house? -- The Anome 16:20, 4 Nov 2003 (UTC)


I'm neither of the above, but I am interested in this. I've worked my way in to this topic with a major entry on "brain functions" and a new article "frontal lobes". Along the way, I've added a few lines to related articles on neuroendocrinology. I stubbed an article on fight-or-flight response only because it is a well-recognized word in the corpus and there is nearly a century of research (and more) available on that topic.

I rounded out HPA_axis with a start on anatomy and function, but am stalled for the moment on specific methods of action for ANS-induced adrenal releases from the adrenal medulla and how they relate to corticosteroid releases from the adrenal cortex mediated by CRF/ACTH.

This stress article is central to neuroendrocinology articles, which as of now offer either very esoteric scientific detail or very elemenary prose. The level of detail is great, and absolutely elementary descriptions need to be there all along, too. IMO, a functional approach would be the best approach to all topics related to living systems, but that requires (IMO) a foundation of anatomy/chemestry be included in the related topics, with functional descriptions developing from elementary summary paragraphs into detailed medical-grade physiology.

Eventually, separate articles on stress (medicine), on stress (psychology) (not psychiatry), and an article on general adaptation syndrome might all be appropriate to properly sort elements of the topic, but for now, we have just about enough copy to make this one with links to related topics, many of which are still stubs.

We need a solid description of basic neuroendrocine functions so we can start to incorporate material about neuroendrocine pathogenisis. I'll encourage anyone with related knowledge to closely watch my work on HPA_axis and kindly to enter corrections or challenge statements as you see fit. SoCal 20:22, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Just on your first point. I think starting off with the physics definition of stress and then linking that to the definition given by the medical model might help. Then a brief mention of selye's work in explenation of how the word became part of everyday parlance yet lost part of its original meaning when used in psychological terms. Im no prose expert so i'll leave it to someone elso to do but that layout should clarify the distinction. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Martinq22 (talkcontribs) 10:41, 12 May 2006

I am a biologist, and am currently doing revision on the subject. I will add to this once I've gotten past these darn exams... The types of stress section is very shabby, and needs particular addressing, and I'm presently going to read the neuroendocrinology section to assess it's quality. Hopefully it along with me textbook will help. N. A. Wheatman 17th May 2007 15:40 (GMT) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:35, 17 May 2007

Detail needed[edit]

moved to talk from from main page in HPA_axis section: SoCal 23:18, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC) detailed treatment to be written -- subjects to cover include:

Hans Selye[edit]

Could someone take a look at the Hans Selye article? I wrote it to rescue it from being deleted, but it hasn't "grown" as much as this article has. Ortolan88 23:13, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Stress not explained[edit]

I like how the article never explains exactly what stress is (the psychological phenomenon, not its neurochemical causes), although "roughly the opposite of relaxation" is a pretty good approximation, I suppose.

Also, the article never distinguishes between positive stress and negative stress, just that the two different types exist. In fact, I was under the impression that all stress is bad. Also, why can winning the lottery be stressful? I mean, you have so much money that you could just throw money at all your problems. Viltris 08:32, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

I think that what appear to others to be purely positive events can cause stress to particular individuals because of the way they react or percieve the events -- this can be because of personal history, phobias and/or the inability to deal with new situations in an appropriate fashion (i.e. being suddenly super rich causes them to screw up their lives and relationships). --Ben Houston 17:18, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Stress is something we all understand intuitively but is hard to define. While many studies link "stress" (note the quotation marks!) to various illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, absence from work, and total mortality, the definition of stress in each study is different, and based on a different set of tests. We should report results of studies based on their detailed definitions, even though those vary. In every case, no matter how stress was defined, the results of its negative impact were conclusive. This also relates to the issue of optimism, where more optimistical people (less stressed?) had less heart problems! Avigdor6 18:04 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Hi. I wanted to refer to stress from an article on bullying but found that this article is less informative than others "out there". Particularly, the definition of stress... I have a view developed from personal experience (aaagh - personal research) and then wider research (phew). Of the latter, the most informative and agreeable was by Dr William Wilkie, an Australian psychchiatrist and author whose book, "Understanding Stress Breakdown" helps a reader with no prior knowledge of psychology et al get their head around stress... Wilkie himself writes about the confusion:-
"Unfortunately for readers the literature on stress has been anything but clear. The confusion began with writers differing widely on what stress is, and continued with correspondingly different advice. The word stress is used to refer to a burden, load or emphasis. Engineers speak of stresses on structures or an orator might stress a point in speech. Hoever, in recent years, writers in this area have increasingly misused the word "stress" as synonymous with distress. People have been described therefore as suffering from stress or experiencing stress. Not unexpectedly, readers have been mystified by the use of the one word stress to refer to both a cause of nervous system overload and the result of nervous system overload"
After some further elaboration, Wilkie explains that his book uses the original meaning, that is an "excessive load on the nervous system". His observations about the confusion are well illustrated by the UK Government's Health and Safety Executive's definition: "The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them".
I propose to add or modify a section near the top in which some varying definitions of stress are set out, with an explanation of how these relate to the "issue" that stress management and prevention measures are endeavouring to combat. Any comments before I get going? Justdignity 15:10, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Uninformed opinion

Keep in mind this is a Discussion place, so I'm adding my opinion about the article, and I just expect to see other people opinion rather than trying to change mine.


I'm no doctor, I'm no specialist. Rather, I'm a completly generalist, as far as not getting even a graduation diploma in my 24 years of life.

I have problems in life today and everybody around me tells me it's stress. I'm trying to understand better as I never believed I ever had stress. Now, by reading this article, I got to realise what term must apply to myself. Serenity. I find it amazing how there's no article on wikipedia about it.

Anyway, introductions aside, my opinion about stress and it studies is quite uninformed. Please, understand that I'm really bad at using words, even in my native language. Get the context out of the text. The intetion out of the words that I'm going to write.

Stress as I see it

Despite of earlier studies, hormones and phisical stress, there is one common point between stress described here and Sigmund Freud. As my brother told me, stress is caused by the unconcious. The name used here is "body". Now, it seems to me there's about no conclusive study about the unconcious pos-Freud. Even Freud never was conclusive. All he did was naming things. And names I don't even know for sure as I've never read him.

Once again, this is my opinion: Stress is not the signals in your body, stress is the disease itself. In my life I see people often get confused about that. But it says this in the article as well.

Now, what the article doesn't say is that stress, as a disease, is not within everyone. Serenity might be viewed as "state of one without stress". Maybe too many people are stressed out today in our modern world, and people can't even realise stress is just a disease, it has symptoms and it can be treated. Serenity is just a name for "healthy state with no stress". It would be like giving a name for people without HIV... Except stress isn't caused by a virus or a bacteria... I'm not going to get into details on that as I myself am not sure on what causes it, although I know that I know it (old unconcious).

Please don't take this personal, this is a big piece of information and this is out of date. What I'm trying to do is to define stress for myself because I want to cure me. And people will keep thinking I have stress. While it is half true, it seems to me I present no symptons of stress, like any bad signals on blood (I've done frequent exams over the years), such as pressure or even sugar.

I've always thought stress was something that is inside us. It's only between us and God. I think this article just confirm that to me. And anything that's inside us, only affect us if we let it. So, having stress is our fault, and our fault ONLY. Just like any other emotional disorder. I've never felt like having any emotion until very little ago. I've cried for first time in my life by watching a movie. I've cried over a kid, who was just being a nice child. That means to me I'm missing a child that I've never had. And that's my problem, it ain't stress, it's just lack of love.

Now, I'm a cetic person since I was born. I don't believe in nothing I can't see with my own eye. I know people at my age might think I'm being religious or whatever. I've never went to church. I hate romance. I love comedy. It took me the whole 9 yards to understand what love really is. And the lack of it doesn't stress people, but do get people sick. I've got signals from too many inteligent people thinking it was stress, and it was not. It's rather just missing something.

So, once again, stress is just the "new" disease that might be infecting people around the world or not. It is infeccious and it can be prevented. It is one of the hardest disease I was ever aware off, if not the hardest, to diagnose and specially to treat.

Thanks for reading. Please send your opinion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 12:06, 26 January 2006

I think of stress as a combination of tension, pain and fatigue. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:30, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Constructive criticism[edit]

Several colleagues and students had suggested I visit this site because of what they perceived to be erroneous information. Having now had a chance to review this, I agree completely. However there are so many errors of omission and commission that it would be difficult to edit the existing posting. Some of the most egregious include:

1. Stress is not the opposite of relaxation. It is, as originally defined by Hans Selye, "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change." In an attempt to extrapolate his findings in laboratory animals to clinical situations that a layperson could understand, he later defined it as "the rate of wear and tear on the body".

2. The General Adaptation Syndrome was not described by Selye in his 1936 letter to the editor of Nature, which was entitled "A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents." Indeed, even the word "stress" did not even appear in this 176 line letter because since the editor only agreed to publish it if he omitted this term. His objection was that at the time, stress was commonly used as a variant of "distress" and most often referred to "nervous strain" in females and he was concerned that readers would be confused. The General Adaptation Syndrome was not described until a decade later in an extensive article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology.

The general adaptation syndrome was described by Selye in the 1936 letter. He describes the three stages and even uses the phrase "general adaptation syndrome" toward the end of the letter, though you are correct that the word "stress" does not appear. It is a brief letter with little detail, but he does indeed give an introductory description.-- (talk) 12:34, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

3. Stress and its effects erroneously states, "Selye was able to separate the physical effects of stress from other physical symptoms suffered by patients through his research." This is not only a ridiculous claim but it should be noted that Selye never treated any patients or had any clinical experience.

4. The description of the three stages of The General Adaptation Syndrome should be listed as:

  • The Alarm Reaction – a "call to arms" of the body's defenses
  • Stage of Resistance – during which the mobilization of these coping mechanisms was maximized
  • Stage of Exhaustion – where continued exposure to the stressor resulted in destructive damage or death.

5. The statement that there are only two types of stress, eustress and distress is misleading. It would have been much more instructive to distinguish between acute stress that involves activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal cortical axis in "fight or flight" or Alarm Reaction responses that can activate the immune system, and chronic stress that involves other mechanisms that reduce immune system resistance to disease. In addition, the definitions of eustress and distress and the ensuing discussion need to be revised. Selye coined the term eustress to refer to "good stress" and distress does not imply "challenge and overload" but rather anxiety, mental suffering, hurt or hardship. e.g. Winning a race or election is just as stressful or more so than losing. However, these examples of eustress are also associated with "challenge and overload". While it is true that things that are distressful for many can be pleasurable for others this is due to the individual's sense of control over the event. A good example is afforded by observing passengers on a steep roller coaster ride. Some are hunched down in the back seats, eyes shut, jaws clenched and white knuckled with an iron grip on the retaining bar. They can't wait for the ride in the torture chamber to end so they can get back on solid ground and scamper away. But up front are the wide-eyed thrill seekers, yelling and relishing each steep plunge that race to get on the very next ride. And in between you may find a few with an air of nonchalance that borders on boredom. So, was the roller coaster ride stressful? The roller coaster analogy is useful in explaining why the same stressor can differ for each of us. What distinguished passengers in the back from those up front was the sense of control they had over the event. While neither group had any more or less control their perceptions and expectations were quite different. Stress is difficult for scientists to define because it is such a subjective phenomenon. However, all of our experimental and clinical research confirms that the sense of having little or no control is always distressful – and that's what stress is all about. Many times we create our own stress because of faulty perceptions you can learn to correct. You can teach people to move from the back of the roller coaster to the front, and, as Eleanor Roosevelt noted, nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

6. The ensuing discussion of serenity, stress related diseases and karoshi is also incomplete and inaccurate. Unlike many animals, where corticosterone has significant glucocorticoid activity, is function in humans is primarily to serve as a building block for other adrenal cortical steroids. This section should be revised to include a discussion of Selye's concept of Diseases of Adaptation to help explain why his General Adaptation Syndrome has relevance to clinical medicine.

7. Stressors fails to explain why Selye found it necessary to coin this term. The problem was that people used stress to signify very different things. For some it was a bad boss or unpleasant stimulus, many used it to describe their reactions to such situations, such as headache, upset stomach, or chest pain and for others it was the pathologic consequences of these repeated responses that resulted in an ulcer or heart attack. Even Selye had problems when he tried to explain how his animal experiments had clinical relevance. In helping him prepare the First Annual Report on Stress in 1951, I included the comments from one critic who, using verbatim citations from Selye's own articles, concluded in the British Medical Journal that, "Stress in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself." Because it was apparent that most people viewed stress as some unpleasant threat, Selye had to create a new word, stressor, to distinguish stimulus from response. The notion that there are two types of stressors that have arbitrarily been labeled processive stressors and systemic stressors and their alleged distinction is erroneous and these terms are not recognized by most stress researchers. There are various types of stressors that can be categorized as acute and chronic or external and internal that do have important differences.

8. Coping with stress also omits numerous practices that are much more popular and effective than those mentioned, such as exercise, progressive muscular relaxation, visual imagery and a variety of autogenic training techniques. In addition the emphasis in recent years has been on preventing stress rather than reducing its annoying somatic and emotional effects. Some common methods include cognitive restructuring, behavioral modification, assertiveness training time management and stress inoculation.

9. Folklore of stress adds absolutely nothing to the discussion and the opinions and conclusions expressed seem confusing and irrelevant.

10. See also could be greatly expanded and there is no scientific evidence to support the diagnosis of "Hypoadrenia"

11. Further Reading references are self-serving and woefully out of date

12. External Links could be greatly improved. The Work Organization Assessment seems self serving and has not been validated, The "On-Line Stress Test" is a reproduction of the original Holmes-Rahe scale that is 30 years old and has been updated numerous times since it is no longer accurate. No mention is made of numerous other stress assessment instruments such as the Hassles Scale, Self-Perceived Stress Scale, etc. Stress Reduction Techniques has an incomplete list of signs and symptoms of stress and appears to essentially be an advertisement for a book. Most of the other links similarly seem to be motivated by promoting commercial products rather than providing objective educational material. Many of these topics are discussed in greater detail on which enjoys the #1 ranking for inquiries about stress on Google and other major search engines but was not referenced.


  • Selye H. A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents. Nature, 1936;138:32.
  • Selye H. The general adaptation syndrome and the diseases of adaptation. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, 1946;6:117-230.
  • Selye H, Rosch PJ. Integration of Endocrinology. pp. 1-11 in American Medical Association Textbook of Glandular Physiology and Therapy, 1954; J B Lippincott, Philadelphia.
  • Selye H, Rosch, PJ. The Renaissance in Endocrinology pp. 30-44 in Medicine and Science (New York Academy of Medicine Lectures to the Laity) 1954; International Universities Press, New York.
  • Roberts, F. Stress and the general adaptation syndrome. British Medical Journal, 1950; July 8, p.104
  • Rosch, PJ. Reminiscences of Hans Selye and the birth of "Stress". Stress Medicine, 1998; 14: 1-6 (Editorial) 1998.
  • Rosch, PJ. Hans Selye. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 1999; 1:59-66.
  • Rosch, PJ. Stress. pp 427-433 in Encyclopedia of Hormones, Henry H, Norman A. eds. Academic Press, New York, 2004

As indicated, portions of this piece appear to have been motivated by commercial rather than educational purposes. This article should be replaced and also expanded upon and I am willing to do this if others agree. With respect to qualifications, I had a Fellowship with Hans Selye in 1951 and was a close professional colleague and friend throughout his life, served as Editor in Chief of Stress Medicine and have been involved in stress research for well over a half century with numerous publications on various stress related subjects. Additional biographical information can be obtained at by clicking on About The Institute.

Paul J. Rosch, M.D., F.A.C.P.

President The American Institute of Stress

Honorary Vice President International Stress Management Association

Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry New York Medical College — Preceding unsigned comment added by Stress124 (talkcontribs) 17:51, 7 March 2006

Thanks for your observations. I also understand stress to be a physiological reaction to both physical and psychological inputs.
I took the liberty of formatting your entry a little to make it more approachable, and to act as a base for continued discussion.
Your observations are greatly appreciated, and I'm sure that the wikipedia community will act upon them to improve the article, Wikipedia seeks to maintain a Neutral point of view and where such non-neutral content finds its way into articles, it should be mercilessly removed. If you wish to write a replacement article on which Wikipedia's entry on stress may be based this would also be greatly appreciated but Wikipedia's editing policy states If, in your considered judgment, a page simply needs to be rewritten or changed substantially, go ahead and do that. But preserve any old contents you think might have some discussion value on the talk page, along with a comment about why you made the change. Please do continue with your offer to get involved.
Nigosh 19:18, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Transcendental meditation?[edit]

The assertion that Selye found TM to reduce the effects of stress seems quite dubious with no citation. I'm unable to find anything supporting this on Google. Does anyone have a cite? --EStoner 09:12, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Since Selye never treated any patients he had no experience with stress reduction techniques in humans. However, he did appear on some programs with the Dalai Lama several decades ago to help him promote transcendental meditation. He also referred to the use of TM for certain stress related complaints in "The Stress of Life" (2nd edition 1976) and "Stress In Health And Disease" a 1256 page annotated bibliography of stress articles and books also published in 1976. Still would like to proceed with revising this entire article if it is agreeable to everyone. Selye article could also be greatly expanded [User stress124] April 13, 2006

Split off GAS?[edit]

I think general adaptation syndrome deserves its own article, independent of this one. Isopropyl 14:32, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Yes I think so too.--Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 20:57, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
These suggestions were made some time ago and nothing is happened; anyway, I agree that GAS needs its own article, as a major theory of stress. It should still have a section here, with a link to the main article. Lord Spring Onion (talk) 23:10, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

An amateur's modification[edit]

Well, I can't claim to be an expert in psychology, but I can find a dictionary's definition of stress as it pertains to medicine, and I included this in the introduction to the article. If anyone disagrees with this decision or with the definitions please feel free to revert with a proper explanation. I also believe this article seriously needs expansion, so I slapped that tag on there. Ben Tibbetts 18:42, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

In this article I read the statement: The body reacts to stress first by releasing the catecholamine hormones, epinephrine (aka: Adrenaline) and norepinephrine (aka: Noradrenaline) Im a med student and in fact catecholamines are not hormones but neurotransmissors. A hormone is secreted by a gland and a NT is released by a neurone. Val

Adrenaline and noradrenaline are released by the adrenal glands in the body and by neurons in the central nervous system. They're hormones and neurotransmitters, depending on where they are used. Within the context of the article, I'd say they are hormones. WLU 00:36, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Merge with Stress Management?[edit]

I was wondering whether it would be an idea to merge this with Stress Management as these two articles are both very relevant to each other. I was researching this for school work, and from a researcher's point of view I felt that this may be more convenient. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:27, 16 August 2006‎

I disagree, partly. GAS is a very large topic. We all face stress everyday. If fist should be defined. It definatly should refer to stress management but as a link to a separate page. With all the background history provided by Paul J. Rosch, M.D., F.A.C.P. in the constructive criticism section above, it would be helpful for people to also have the following categories besides history:
  • What is General Adaptative Syndrome
  1. Hans Selye's initial work
  • Types of Stress
  1. eustress
  2. physical stress
  3. chemical stress including foods that add to stress of the physiology of the human frame including additives and :preservatives and processing of foods. etc
  4. emotional stress
  5. spiritual stress
  • Stages of GAS
  • Physiological effects on Adrenal glands
  • Subsequent stress to kidneys and liver
  • Treatment of GAS
  1. Health Fields that address GAS specifically and basic methods for standard of care per field
  2. Using nutrition to support Adrenal function
etc, etc,
As you can see, it will get very involved by the time you get to Stress Management. If there is already work on that topic, then this definately deserves it's own focus. Not enough is out there to address all the stresses. Susan P Sanders, BS, DC
— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:32, 31 August 2006
Yes I think merging might not be the best idea.--Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 20:56, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Do not merge. merger is an absurd idea. a split is needed. all the information in this article on stress management is becoming unwieldly and invites more bulk from editors adding new topics on stress management. this article should have a more medical tone. Anlace 14:05, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
I tried to create a more detailed page focused on a Stress Release technique (For example Recognizing ideal goals, and reviewing current activities) that would be valuable for the Wikipedia community, but Yanksox 'yanked' the page. Do you think it would be good to have a separate page detailing these techniques? Emurcion 11:05, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Possible Copyvio[edit]

Under the heading "Spending time in nature," I found this:

See the article Spending Time in Nature for suggestions on how to begin tapping
the healing power of nature.

Since there does not appear to be such an article in Wikipedia, I have to assume that this section, at least, was lifted from somewhere else. I'm under somewhat of a deadline at work today, so I don't have time to research it, but I think this raises concerns about how much of this article has been swiped from another site. Septegram 21:00, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

You were right: the whole "other activities" paragraph, Tai Chi, Tai Chi,... was a cumulative copyvio of:
and probably some more. Anyway, it has been deleted now. This article still remains in a shamingly poor state though, and even after a Medicine-collaboration...--Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 17:33, 29 October 2006 (UTC)jew

"Countering Stress"[edit]

This section is messy, but was re-added after I took the liberty of removing it. I'll comment each point in turn:

"Finding a method of coping with the problem." - refers (kinda unobviously; should at least be "coping (psychology)") to a section in need of citation.

"Massage can loosen muscles and increase blood flow." - no explanation of why this should help alleviate stress?

"Meditation can help to open new paths in the brain." - no explanation of the relevance of "open new paths" (?) to stress. Besides, the section on meditation has the "may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards" stamp.

"Physical exercise helps to become healthier, leading to better blood flow. Also causes a release of endorphines, -stress relieving hormones." - again, "blood flow", unexplained. Other than that, no mention in the article of endorphines; needs references.

"Sleep can stimulate the brain." - "stimulate"? Relevance to stress, how?

"Nature and listening to classical music e.g. Mozart can help to calm the mind." - first, "nature"? Unexplained. Second, why only mention classical music (with an oddly narrow example)? Why mention music at all? No references.

"Stress Release begins with understanding what drives you, what your major struggles are, how to put them into perspective, and how to take action." - refers to nothing anymore, as that section was removed.

"Yoga can improve physical being" - unexplained relevance to stress.

"Prayer can bring a new perspective on problems." - I hardly think "a new perspective" would yield stress relief automatically. In any case, no references.

"Smoking can bring a quick fix, but can also raise stress levels, (see below)." - why would this be under "countering stress"? Also, what's below?

"Emotional Freedom Technique to remove emotional blockage." - if stress did indeed come from "emotional blockage", well, sure. But the article doesn't refer to anything like this. Anyways, the section in mention is not even verified, so it seems like a bad choice.

In short (a rather long "short"), the section seems really weak and shouldn't be included in the article (which in itself needs more work). (One last thing: if "countering stress" is the issue here, one should only include things that actually *counter stress*, and an explanation of why this is so.)—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 11:35, 1 February 2007 (UTC).

An incredible mess[edit]

What on earth? This article is HORRIBLE. It does not even tell who Selye is!!!--Filll 00:17, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

This mess faithfully reflects the lack of consensus and widely different opinions about stress amongst the lay population as well as the scientific community. So why blame wikipedia or wikipedians for the mess? It would be infinitely better if wikipedia would permit several articles on stress simultaneously. In my opinion that is the only way to clear this mess. Otherwise it is difficult to fit widely divergent views into a neat article. This is particularly so when everybody wants to have an opinion about stress. Moreover stress is a very big topic needing subdivisions.

Why don't we allow more than one article on stress? Shall the policies of wikipedia permit this sort of experiment? -- Lakshayaa 00:27, 10 September 2007 (UTC)


Some small changes to grammar made... hope you do not mind. Michael Henchard 22:49, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

Stress (medicine)[edit]

Stress is not a medicine - why not move it to Stress (medical). I'll do it tomorrow unless there are any objections? Thedreamdied 22:20, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Even stress (medical) isn't the best term, since it is used in non-medical contexts. Stress (biological) or perhaps stress (human) might also work, and be more appropriate. Other ideas? WLU 22:36, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Stress (health) ? --Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 15:15, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Stress does not necessarily have health implications unless it is prolonged distress, and just about everything stresses the body in some way - sleep is an 8 hour fast, standing up requires potentially lethal blood-pressure adjustment, orgasms are a type of eustress. Anything that doesn't involve lying down quietly with catheters and a colostomy bag causes some degree of stress, yet few have true health implications. In my opinion, naming it stress (health) restricts the article to only the health implications of stress (and probably the negative implications only). I think stress (biological) provides for more opportunity to expand on the adaptive abilities of the body. Also, stress (biological) allows for non-human adaptations to stress, 'health' being less used to refer to molluscs. Stress (biological) also provides a very distinct contrast to the other main use of the term - stress (physics). In my opinion, stress (health) puts the same limits on the article that stress (medicine) does. What do others think? WLU 16:45, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with you, WLU. Stress (biological) seems to make the most sense. Thedreamdied 20:36, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree the title shouldn't limit the term to the medical. Health I might have gone for, but appreciate the points made about that. Biological I'm not sure, only because in the human context the term is often contrasted with Psychological or Social (e.g. biopsychosocial). Stress (human) would exclude non-human animals I suppose. EverSince 21:12, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
Social and psychological stress have biological sequelae. That gives psychological stress a loophole to enter the article. WLU 18:59, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

I tend to agree with WLU. The reason to my mind is that stress response probably originated half a billion years ago amongst the fishes that were living in the deep waters. Man came on this earth only 200000 years ago and inherited the stress response. And medicine came only a few thousand years ago. All vertebrates use stress response to counter threats. Biological stress should in my opinion replace stress (medicine) and should be a better choice than stress (medical). -- Lakshayaa 00:47, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Seems like a consensus for stress (biological), I think the page title should now be moved to that. EverSince (talk) 13:49, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
As a frequent editor of this page, I agree as well, FWIW. --1000Faces (talk) 18:36, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
The more I look at the present title, the body of the article itself and the discussion here above, the more (biological) in parenthesis looks & feels wrong. The second sentence starts with the words, "In medical terms..." Most people typing the word into a search box will not be doing so in order to find out more about stress in animals. However much of the pioneering research may have been done on animals, most of the article, not surprisingly, is concerned with stress in humans. The original title, which seems to have sparked this discussion - Stress (medicine) - did of course need changing. But what it's now been changed to is misleading as well as inaccurate. Might I strongly urge 'Stress (biomedical)? That would cover all the bases. Anybody to argue against?Wingspeed (talk) 21:15, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Maybe there needs to be a split, as with so many similar subjects, between the clinical concept and the general usage. Or, I'm thinking Stress (life) is an option. Life having both scientific and popular usage. And reflecting Selye's bestseller "Stress In Life". EverSince (talk) 12:21, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

GAS (New Page)[edit]

Please Consider the following as an educational tool to help the average person understand GAS. I took what the MD wrote above and my previous outline and came up with the following. I am not a wiki writer and would appreciate someone helping with the looks of the content, but I believe this will actually explain GAS to the layperson.

What is General Adaptation Syndrome

Brief Overview: General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS for short) is a term created by Hans Selye to categorize and describe the physiological changes the adrenal glands express when the human frame deals with stress.

Stress as originally defined by Hans Selye, is "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change." In an attempt to extrapolate his findings in laboratory animals to clinical situations that a layperson could understand, he later defined it as "the rate of wear and tear on the body".

General Adaptation Syndrome was not described by Selye in his 1936 letter to the editor of Nature, which was entitled "A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents." Indeed, even the word "stress" did not even appear in this 176 line letter because since the editor only agreed to publish it if he omitted this term. His objection was that at the time, stress was commonly used as a variant of "distress" and most often referred to "nervous strain" in females and he was concerned that readers would be confused. The General Adaptation Syndrome was not described until a decade later in an extensive article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology.

Stages of GAS The three stages of The General Adaptation Syndrome are: • The Alarm Reaction – a "call to arms" of the body's defenses • Stage of Resistance – during which the mobilization of these coping mechanisms was maximized • Stage of Exhaustion – where continued exposure to the stressor resulted in destructive damage or death of the adrenal cells and/or other cells being directly affected by adrenal reliance.

The Alarm Reaction is simply a stimulation to your body’s sympathetic nervous system. The fight or Flight reaction and all it’s nerve and chemical reponses apply. The Stage of Resitance is simply this. If your body is exposed to a stress (or stressors) that the adrenal glands are responding to and that response remains for an extended period of time then the adrenal glands use up body resourses to continue it’s job of increasing body steroids and hormones to keep your body in a heightned sympathetic nervous system response.

The Stage of Exhaustion is a reaction to a stress that the body does not recognize as having gone away. Your adrenal glands have remained in a heightened state of alarm for a long time now. They have used up most if not all their resources and are now just functioning at an overtaxed rate. Unlike many animals, where corticosterone (produced by the adrenal glands) has significant glucocorticoid activity, its function in humans is primarily to serve as a building block for other adrenal cortical steroids. So if it is depleted, then the body has to hunt for sources to make more. The adrenal glands respond by hypertrophying (growing in size) in order to try to maintin the pace of sympathetic distress. Hypertrophied cells are damaged, but not dead. Stage 3 of GAS also calls in for backup response from the body’s liver and kidneys and thyroid glands as these organs frequently back each other up physiologically. Your body will start to develop issues in these organs if the adrenals are not given a chance to recover. If still overtaxed overtime, the body will respond by taking nutrients from additional organs such as the heart or where ever else it can find the nutritents to keep the adrnal glands from failing. If you need more information check out the adrenal link on Wiki. It is very detailed about the hormones and steroids the adrenals produce.

Types of Stress 1. Acute vs. Chronic 2. Eustress vs. Distress 3. Physical vs. Chemical vs. Emotional vs. Spiritual Stress

Again stress as originally defined by Hans Selye, is "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change." Where “any” is literal. With this in mind, there are many ways to categorize stressors that can cause the adrenal glands to repond by beginning the stages of GAS.

1. Acute stress involves activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal cortical axis in "fight or flight" or Alarm Reaction responses that can activate the immune system and at minimum stage 1 of GAS. Chronic stress involves other mechanisms that reduce immune system resistance to disease and progresses the stages of GAS to stage 2 or 3.

2. Selye coined the term eustress to refer to "good stress" and distress does not imply "challenge and overload" but rather anxiety, mental suffering, hurt or hardship. e.g. Winning a race or election is just as stressful or more so than losing. However, these examples of eustress are also associated with "challenge and overload". While it is true that things that are distressful for many can be pleasurable for others this is due to the individual's sense of control over the event. A good example is afforded by observing passengers on a steep roller coaster ride. Some are hunched down in the back seats, eyes shut, jaws clenched and white knuckled with an iron grip on the retaining bar. They can't wait for the ride in the torture chamber to end so they can get back on solid ground and scamper away. But up front are the wide-eyed thrill seekers, yelling and relishing each steep plunge that race to get on the very next ride. And in between you may find a few with an air of nonchalance that borders on boredom. So, was the roller coaster ride stressful? The roller coaster analogy is useful in explaining why the same stressor can differ for each of us. What distinguished passengers in the back from those up front was the sense of control they had over the event. While neither group had any more or less control their perceptions and expectations were quite different. Stress is difficult for scientists to define because it is such a subjective phenomenon. However, all of our experimental and clinical research confirms that the sense of having little or no control is always distressful – and that's what stress is all about. Many times we create our own stress because of faulty perceptions you can learn to correct. You can teach people to move from the back of the roller coaster to the front, and, as Eleanor Roosevelt noted, nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

3. Physical stress such as trauma or being pregnant can stimulate the Adrenal reaction to deal with the stresses on the body. Emotional stress such as grief, elation, anger, etc. Chemical stress can be environmental (external) or digested materials (internal). Spriritual stress is a much less common category and can be considered emotional stress.

Treatment of GAS

Our Adrenal Glands are designed to work all the time. The best scenerio is that they repsond to acute stress which goes away and then the Adrenal glands get to rest until next time. Stage 2 and especially stage 3 are designed to be conditions of the Adrenal Glands on rarer occasions. Unfortunately there is a lot more stage 2 and stage 3 phases in our lives which our body must react to.

Psychologists and Psychiatrists tend to use stress assessment instruments such as questionairres like the Hassles Scale and the Self-Perceived Stress Scale to assess a patients level of stress (not their stage in GAS) Applied Kinesiologists will test directly for stage 3 GAS via a muscle test reaction. This is done via testing any strong muscle (most use the arm because it is easily accessable). If the patient is under too much stress and Adrenal overuse, then the muscle will be sensitive to stretching. A quick stretch is applied to the strong muscle and then it is retested. A positive finding for stage 3 GAS is if the muscle cannot maintain its strength after being stretched and re-tested. Normally stretching a muscle makes it stronger not weaker. Applied Kinesiology also will check the adrenal gland vacular points (as mapped out by accupuncture) and the neurolymphatic points (or alarm points) near the umbilicus. Any further indications would suggest treatment is necessary. This treatment includes balancing the nervous system to reset it toward normal (take it out of sympathetic stress). If the Applied Kinesiologist is a Chiropractor then a spinal adjustment is given to balance the nervous system. Also addressed would be the suggestion of supplements designed to support the adrenal glands which includes a lot of B vitamins. This helps supply the Adrenal glands with basic nutrients which is it lacking to maintain a normal level of function.

Supporting the emotional system should be included. In recent years non-pharmaceutical method emphasis has been on preventing stress rather than reducing its annoying somatic and emotional effects. Some common methods include cognitive restructuring, behavioral modification, assertiveness training time management and stress inoculation.

Having patients partake of relaxing exercise also help balance both the emotional and physical components of an overtaxed Adrenal Gland system. These may include strecthing, yoga, tai-chi, or other relaxing exercises. Diet changes may also be necessary. Each person is unique, but eating foods that do not stress your body is important for reducing GAS. For example, an overweight person or Diabetic person (type II) may be retaining fat due to eating foods that promote cortisol production from the Adrenal Glands on a continuous basis. Eating too much protein can cause this physiological stress on the Adrenal Glands. Eating too much carbohydrates can also cause this to occur. Find out your metabolic type (Endomorphic, exomorophic, obese, ectomorphic) and find a diet (in the true sense of the word…the foods you eat everyday) that address your metabolic type. A basic idea is to eat small meals more often to decrease stress to your digestive tract and pancreas. Overeating is a stress as is eating foods that your body is sensitive to or does not digest well. These will also cause an Adrenal Response and a cortico-steroid response as a result. Please note you can be thin and still be in stage 3 GAS. You just won’t show your stress so visibly.

Signs and symptoms of General Adaptation Syndrome: This is not categorized as a disease. It is a physiological response. If you walk into your medical doctor’s office, chances are he or she will have no idea how to recognize when your adrenal glands are in chronic overload from constant use and won’t be able to do much besides prescribe anti-anxiety medicines or valium, or some other form of medication.

Acduluth1 17:00, 2 May 2007 (UTC)Dr Sanders

It would need considerable formatting to be put into the article, and I haven't had a chance to read it thoroughly, but it looks like a good faith addition at the least. However, it really needs to be referenced, right now there is nothing. Other points:
  • You can't use second person, it must be written in 3rd person. All the 'your' and 'our' should be removed before being put on the main page.
  • All your bold headings should be section headings in the actual article (== title ==
  • Use [[wikilinks]], not 'see this other part of wikipedia
  • Stuff about Elanor Roos. shouldn't be there, and examples should be used sparingly (i.e. the roller coaster should be shortened considerably)
  • The chiropractor and applied kinesiology stuff needs good references, particularly if it is a minority view.
  • The stuff about food also looks like pseudoscience to me, but I could just be biased. Again, reliable sources there are a necessity.
Other than all that, most of which is cosmetic or sources, the page would definitely be enhanced if this info were added methinks. I leave you with the following template:
Thank you for your suggestion. When you feel an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the edit this page link at the top. The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes — they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to). WLU 19:11, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Comments/Questions/Suggestions and Compliments[edit]

Thank you for your informative post. hello

After reading your post, because of my poor understanding in Human psychology and psychiatry, there are few confusions which forced me to request your precious help in clearing my confusion and my understanding in this topic.

  • Can I define stress like this? Please, I request your corrections and suggestions in my poor understanding in this interesting topic.

Pressure: It is the stimulation and challenge you need to achieve job satisfaction and self-esteem.
Stress: It is a reaction to continued excessive pressure or responsibility when you feel inadequate or unable to cope. (copied from [1] for educational purpose)

Stress is a conscious or unconscious psychological feeling or physical situation which comes after as a result of physical or/and mental 'positive or negative pressure' to overwhelm adaptive capacities..

(Because of my poor English I was unable to understand the types of Stress . Please, forgive my understanding in English language)

  • Can we 'TYPE/Sub-divide/group-sub group' stress in this way?
  1. Physical stress
  2. Mental stress (Emotional stress etc)
  3. Chemical Stress
  1. Physical Stress
    1. Physical Stress after heavy works/exercises or physical activities (March fracture etc)
    2. Physical Stress which helps in development of peptic ulcer
    3. Physical stress after surgical manipulation or trauma (crush syndrome etc)
    4. Physical stress after severe burn etc
  2. Mental Stress
    1. Mental stress during "heavy-brain work or mental activity" (while playing piano, while playing Chess etc)
    2. Mental stress during "pre/post-Examination" etc
  3. Chemical Stress
    1. Metabolic stress
  • What is difference between Anxiety and stress?
  • When to suggest a stressed person to seek experts help?
  • Consequence of stress

Errors lead to accidents and that stress can lead to errors. [1]

Please, It will be great help for me to have your comments/suggestions here or in talk page! Thank you!
AnThRaX Ru 19:58, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

  1. ^ Toft B, Mascie-Taylor H. Involuntary automaticity: a work-system induced risk to safe health care. Health Services Management Research 2005; 18: 211–216 November 2005


I am missing information about CATS Cognitive Arousal Theory og Stress (Ursin & Eriksen). This is a contemporary, but well-dokumented cognitive theory which adresses other and important aspects of stress as a physiological and psychological phenomenon. If this article is rewritten, this theory deserves to be presented since it represents a new and important wiew on stress. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:09, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Some things to consider[edit]

Hi all, move this to the bottom if that is etiquette. I just wanted to say that I will do my best to make some changes soon, but in the meantime if anyone wants to know a few places to start I figured I could at least list some simple stuff I notice (overall this is a great entry). First, it is missing some important stress researchers (more modern times). Saplosky, Hellhammer, Kudlieka, and many others (to name a few). Also, I just get a kick out of the phrase "the so-called HPA-axis." A section on stress measurement would be great (including plasma ACTH, salivary cortisol, catecholamines, blood pressure, the various self-report stress scales, alpha-amylase, and others). Then the mechanism section is a bit light. While the causes of stress section is interesting, there is an excellent meta-analysis demonstrating what factors are most likely to elicit HPA-axis responding (i.e., elevated salivary cortisol levels). Thus, a section on expectations, controllability, and social judgment would be nice. This would also lead into the difference between stress and general arousal (as Selye felt they were basically the same, but we know now that they are not remotely the same). Finally, a section on the effects of stress on cognition and behavior would be interesting. Stress effects memory, attention, the immune system, and so much more. Like I said, I will attempt to add this at some point, but it will be a while. If anyone else can use this as a guide or for ideas, I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:13, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Definition of stress[edit]

I've been looking around trying to find a consensus definition of stress from the research literature, but there doesn't seem to be one. Selye's definition is not satisfactory because of his emphasis on "adaptation to change" as the source of stress. In fact, research since Selye's time has indicated that threats (or perceived threats) are the real source of stress, not adaptation to change. For example, negative changes like divorce are much more stressful than comparable, positive changes like marriage. Some authors suggest that stress is the body's response to threats, which is similar to Selye's position. Others refer to stress as a feature of the environment, which is incompatible with much of the psychological and medical research, but seems closer to the original concept of stress from engineering. Let's discuss the issue here and see if we can come up with a consensus for the article.

I would argue that stress is a physical and psychological reaction to perceived threats from the environment. The threats themselves can be referred to as "stressors" (Selye's term). I think this definition captures the essential nature of threatening events as the source of stress, but also maintains the importance of perception or appraisal that is so important in many modern theories of stress (e.g. Lazarus). Does anyone care to comment? --Jcbutler (talk) 18:43, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

It might need to note that there is variation in usage, and describe that variation. For example is it always considered necessary for the stressor to be perceived (e.g. if a chemical or something)? Is it always considered necessary for it be labeled a threat - for example stressors like large amounts of information or change etc, which may be perceived as positive or part of the positive pursuit of goals? I guess "threat" could be used in a very broad sense to cover most of the issues, but then it would seem necessary to define that word? (without tautologically defining it as anything that causes a stress response to be triggered, I guess). EverSince (talk) 00:13, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Good points. I believe that something could be stressful even if it is not actively perceived as threatening. This might have been the case in Selye's research (did his rats really feel "threatened"?), though it departs from contemporary, cognitive approaches that focus exclusively on subjective appraisal. I also agree that we will probably need to note that there is variation in usage very early in the article. Perhaps a brief, broad definition of some kind, followed by a series of more specific, rival interpretations of the construct. This is a tricky article to write. --Jcbutler (talk) 21:38, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Yeah really tricky. One brief broad definition that seems to be cited around the place is "a non-specific response of the body to any demand" (body presumably meant to include mind). But that doesn't really incorporate the role of appraisal. And "demand", well, could actually be a lack of - i.e. pyschologists have linked stress to repetitive boring tasks or lack of purpose etc, like in certain kinds of job. And Selye suggested that stress needn't necessarily involve distress (his other bestseller being "Stress Without Distress"). Maybe some mixture of that and the sentence you suggested above, and/or with specific or rival interpretations afterwards as you say? (including some current usage like oxidative stress that's not psychological at all (but still biochemical, doesn't seem to be the physics sense of a particular measure of forces...but then neither is it talking about a holistic "non-specific response"). EverSince (talk) 23:18, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

I realize this is really complicating things but...I was looking at PMID 15589266 (2004) that's cited in the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis article, and it has a subsection "what is stress" which says:

"as a result of an increasingly uncritical usage of the term ‘stress,’ the stress concept in its conventional interpretation has lost most of its heuristic value. Therefore, several attempts have been made to streamline the different ‘stress’ definitions. Chrousos [22] defined stress as “an animal’s state of threatened homeostasis... The disturbing forces or threats to homeostasis [are] called ‘stressors,’ and the counteracting re-establishing forces […] ‘adaptive responses”’ (p. 4). Recently the alternative concept of allostasis was introduced (e.g. [100]). Synonymously to the adaptive responses, allostasis stands for the processes for actively maintaining homeostasis. A recent review by Pacak and Palkovits [121] provides a detailed introduction into the development and validity of the different stress concepts.

According to Seyle’s and Chrousos’ definitions, a stimulus becomes a stressor if it is threatening an animal’s homeostasis and activates the HPA axis. Stressors are commonly classified as ‘emotional’ or ‘physical.’ ... An alternative classification of stressors has been suggested...Real threats (or ‘systemic’ stressors; e.g., visceral and somatic pain, humoral inflammatory signals, stimulation of baroreceptors or osmoreceptors) represent genuine challenges to homeostasis. They are recognised by the brain via somatic, visceral or circumventricular sensory pathways that directly activate stress centres in the hypothalamus. Predicted threats (or ‘neurogenic’ or ‘processive’ stressors; e.g., anticipation/recognition of predators or danger associated with new environments as an innate or learnt capability of the animals), in contrast, lead to an activation of the HPA axis in absence of a physiological challenge. Predicted threats are primarily processed by limbic brain regions including hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex [58]. Most of the naturally occurring stressors comprise aspects of both categories"

And checking the cited Pacak & Palkovits 2001, well... I'll quote at length 'cos it's password protected but seems very relevant:

[Selye] wrote in his book, Stress of Life: "This lack of distinction between cause and effect was, I suppose, fostered by the fact that when I introduced the word stress into medicine in its present meaning, my English was not yet good enough for me to distinguish between the words stress and strain. It was not until several years later that the British Medical Journal called my attention to this fact, by the somewhat sarcastic remark that according to Selye stress is its own cause. Actually I should have called my phenomenon the strain reaction and that which causes it ‘stress,’ which would parallel the use of these terms in physics. However, by the time that this came to my attention, biological stress in my sense of the word was so generally accepted in various languages that I could not have redefined it. Hence, I was forced to create a neologism and introduce the word stressor, for the causative agent, into the English language, retaining stress for the resulting condition" (1).

Confusion still arises regarding what one believes defines and constitutes stress. Despite the fact that thousands of research articles have been written about stress and stress-related diseases, until now no scientifically accepted definition of stress exists (2). This results in the view that stress can be practically anything that contributes to virtually any disease in humans. Most scientists view stress as the situation when the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, represented mainly by elevated ACTH levels, is activated (3). Others suggest that activation of other systems with or without an elevation in ACTH may reflect stress-induced disturbed homeostasis (4, 5). Several review articles and book chapters have summarized data from hundreds of stress-related studies and drawn conclusions relating to different aspects of the stress response (2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17). This review focuses on two major points: 1) evidence that specific stressors may elicit specific responses, and 2) different stressors may activate different brain systems by using specific pathways within the central nervous system. Particular attention has been paid to Selye’s doctrine of nonspecificity of stress responses, which has been tested in our laboratory. Based on our data using five different acute stressors (immobilization stress, hypoglycemia, nontraumatic hemorrhage, pain stress, and cold stress) and several previous reports by others (4, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29), we turned our attention to identifying stressor-specific neuronal circuits in brain and their involvement in stress-related diseases. ...

Many current views concerning what stress means and how to define and approach it exist, but none has been widely accepted. Many of these theories were discussed in detail and described by Goldstein (Ref. 2 and Table 1). Important contributions to these theories have been made by Weiner (36) and Chrousos (6) and Chrousos and Gold (7). Weiner correctly pointed to specificity of stressor responses by describing stressors as selective pressures from the physical and social environment that threaten or challenge an organism and elicit compensatory response patterns. Chrousos and Gold defined stress as a state of disharmony or of threatened homeostasis, evoking physiologically and behaviorally adaptive responses that can be specific to the stressor or generalized and nonspecific and that usually occur stereotypically, producing a "nonspecific" stress syndrome when the threat to homeostasis exceeds a threshold. They included genetic polymorphisms as well as alterations in the expression of genes and environmental factors as important determinants of individual stress responses. ...

Based on an intervening variable as a theoretical construct in psychology that links a stimulus to a behavioral response, Goldstein (2) recently introduced a new definition of stress. He defined stress as "a condition where expectations, whether genetically programmed, established by prior learning, or deduced from circumstances, do not match the current or anticipated perceptions of the internal or external environment, and this discrepancy between what is observed or sensed and what is expected or programmed elicits patterned, compensatory responses." ...

Recently, McEwen (11) introduced the term "allostasis" into stress research. ... allostasis refers to the active process of adaptation by productions of various mediators such as adrenal steroids, catecholamines, cytokines, tissue mediators, and immediate early genes. Upon exposure to a chronic stressful situation, physiological responses are initiated, leading to allostatic (adaptive) responses. These responses involve major systems similar to the stress effector systems that were described previously. If allostatic responses are efficient, adaptation occurs and the organism is protected from damage. In situations where allostatic responses are prolonged, inadequate, overstimulated by repeated "hits" from multiple stressors or if a lack of adaptation occurs, allostatic load results in maladaptation and damage to various organs (11, 16). In contrast to homeostatic mechanisms, allostatic regulations are broader and do not depend on set-point mechanisms, signals are not constant, and anticipation of need is an important element. Another aspect of this theory is that allostatic load also reflects aspects of lifestyle (e.g., eating a high-fat diet, lack of exercise, etc.) and disturbances of diurnal rhythms (e.g., sleep deprivation) that result from overexposure of various tissues to stress mediators. Allostatic theory also continues Selye’s notion of "conditioning factors" to explain individual differences in stress responses. ...

Based on our previous findings of the existence of stressor-specific neuroendocrine responses and mapping of stressor-specific central circuits that participate in these responses (see below), we attempted to define stress as a state of threatened homeostasis (physical or perceived treat to homeostasis). During stress, an adaptive compensatory specific response of the organism is activated to sustain homeostasis. The adaptive response reflects the activation of specific central circuits and is genetically and constitutionally programmed and constantly modulated by environmental factors.

Another "mainstream" theory of stress has been offered recently by molecular biologists regarding the role of heat shock proteins in cellular survival (38). Ironically, their theory posits essentially the same doctrine of nonspecificity that Selye espoused; regardless of the insult, cells respond in the same way. ...

Sapolsky and co-workers (39, 40, 41) and McEwen et al. (42) introduced and discussed in great detail new aspects of stress in terms of its adverse effects on various brain regions, especially the hippocampus. Upon exposure to stressors, glucocorticoids are released and act on target cells including brain cells. This central action of glucocorticoids is associated with behavioral, neurochemical, and neurodegenerative changes. ...

Oxidative stress is another type of stressor that participates in neurodegeneration of brain cells ...

A stressor may be viewed as a stimulus that disrupts homeostasis. In general, stressors can be divided into four main categories: 1) physical stressors that have either a negative or, in some situations, a positive psychological component; 2) psychological stressors that reflect a learned response to previously experienced adverse conditions; 3) social stressors reflecting disturbed interactions among individuals; and 4) stressors that challenge cardiovascular and metabolic homeostasis (4, 10, 53). Physical stressors include cold, heat, intense radiation, noise, vibration, and many others. Chemical stressors include all poisons. Pain stress may be elicited by many different chemical and physical agents. Psychological stressors profoundly affect emotional processes and may result in behavioral changes such as anxiety, fear, or frustration. Social stressors include an animal’s placement into the territory of a dominant animal, and in humans, unemployment and marital separation, among others, are considered social stressors. Stressors that disturb cardiovascular or metabolic homeostasis include exercise, orthostasis, upright tilt, heat exposure, hypoglycemia, and hemorrhage. Many of the stressors described above and used in animal research, however, are mixed and act in concert, such as handling, immobilization stress, anticipation of a painful stimulus, and hypotensive hemorrhage.

In terms of duration, stressors may be divided into two main categories: acute (single, intermittent, and time-limited exposure vs. continuous exposure) vs. chronic (intermittent and prolonged exposure vs. continuous exposure) stressors. It should be noted that many stressors differ in their intensity.

Maybe this wiki article needs a proper "Definition of stress" subsection, and once that's developed to cover all these issues, the lead can summarize it, and the other subsections of the article? EverSince (talk) 07:44, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

New sections to add[edit]

I will do my best to make a few changes to this in the next few days. Despite the obvious dispute about stress (definitions, etc.) this page is missing some things that would be interesting (someone else already mentioned some). First, there is no section on measuring stress nor on common laboratory stressors. As mentioned, there is a meta-analysis (Dickerson & Kemeny I think) that discusses all of these issues. There should also be a section discussing toughening (Dientsbier). This is mostly a note for me at this time. Trobic2 (talk) 22:48, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

NHS link[edit]

Chloem (talk · contribs) has just added a link to an NHS self help guide. This doesn't violate WP:EL, but the contents don't seem very useful to me. I am inclined to remove the link, but since it was added in good faith, I thought it would be good to ask for opinions from others here first. Looie496 (talk) 17:30, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was Yes check.svg DoneJuliancolton | Talk 01:14, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Stress (biological)Stress (biology) — Disambiguator terms are typically nouns, not adjectives. Cybercobra (talk) 04:01, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

  • Comment how about biological stress ? (talk) 04:51, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
    That wouldn't fit very well with the way Wikipedia usually handles these things. Regarding the proposal, I wouldn't have any problem living with either form. Looie496 (talk) 17:18, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Sress & Immunity system[edit]

I had an experience last year where I lost a lot of hair (and had many other symptoms, some painful) due to stress. Complete Blood Count also showed that my white cell levels were below critical level three times. I was diagnosed with stress reaction but my hair hasn't grown back. Does anyone know how long it takes to recover?-- (talk) 18:47, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, Wikipedia contributors are not permitted to give people advice about their personal medical conditions. And also, Wikipedia talk pages are intended to be used only for matters that relate to improving the article. Regards, and good luck, Looie496 (talk) 21:50, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

GAS v's Fight or Flight[edit]

Given that the Fight-or-flight response is also known as the acute stress response, I might have thought it would be mentioned in this article. Which leads me to an area of confusion - what exactly is the overlap, if any, between fight-or-flight and the General Adaptation Syndrome?

Some sources seem to imply that F-or-F is the same thing as the Alarm stage, but this to me doesn't seem to fit with Selye's assertion that the Alarm stage occurs "6–48 hours after the initial injury" (see, and clearly an organism does not wait 6 hours or more before having an acute stress response. Some sources (e.g. say that the two, F-or-F, are separate things, one a short-term and one a long-term reaction to stress. Either way I think the matter needs to be covered in this article: both acute and chronic stress need to be explained and clarification of key terms provided if necessary. Ideally (if it is even known) an explanation of how each relates to Autonomic nervous system arousal and Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis activity, that would be lovely!

I apologise that despite having studied Psychology to degree level, I am still unclear on the difference and sources I have looked at, both internet and books, are often vague or inconsistent. Lord Spring Onion (talk) 13:36, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Exercise and Stress[edit]

Can information be added to the article on exercise as a cause of stress? What information is there on how regular exercise causes stress, and negatively affects health? What about how exercise affects the rate at which the body ages? Does exercise slow down, speed up, or have no effect on ageing? Would people who regularly exercise look older than if they did no exercise at all? Wsmss (talk) 13:39, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Review of stress, disease and the HPA axis[edit]

This review has 194 citations and should probably be added. See here and full-text here. --sciencewatcher (talk) 04:19, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

Definition under **Models** is circular[edit]

"Physiologists define stress as how the body reacts to a stressor, real or imagined, a stimulus that causes stress".

Stress is what stressors cause. There needs to be some outside criteria to delimit either stress or stressor.

Mrtweedles (talk) 20:03, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

APS Wiki Initiative in preparation[edit]

I'm preparing to contribute to this article as a part of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Wikipedia Initiative. In response to some recent topics, I plan to touch more on researchers in the field, focus more on the biological mechanisms proposed throughout history up to today, including biochemical markers and immune responses leading into neuroendocrinology and and cognitive psychology components such as memory and anxiety. I'm an active researcher in this field, love this topic, and look forward to doing a lot of research to bring the best information to this page. I'll definitely be looking through all of the Talk posts and look forward to hearing feedback from everyone

BrianMSweis (talk) 18:24, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Great! -- it's always nice to see people with expertise working on important articles. If you could use a hand with anything, please say so. Regards, Looie496 (talk) 18:43, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

APS Wiki Initiative: Major reorganization, additions, and edits - not so much removing content[edit]

Here's a proposed outline. Underneath each heading, more topics are still being researched/brainstormed to be added; this is just a rough template. I'm trying to incorporate a lot of the comments in the Talk Page. Clear, accurate, neutral descriptions with many visuals/complementary figures is the goal - featured articles have great visuals. I'd appreciate any comments!

      I.Intro – summary and significance
     II.Ambiguity in definitions
    III.Biological background
        a.Key organs
              4.Locus coeruleus
            ii.Pituitary gland
            iii.Adrenal gland
        b.Key biochemicals
           viii.Neuropeptide Y
    IV.Biological mechanisms
         a.Hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical (HPA) axis 
         b.Sympathetic adrenomedullary (SAM) system
         c.Catecholaminergic system
         d.Peripheral autonomic system
         e.Immune system
         f.Regulation, control, and consequences
              1.Circadian rhythm
            iii.Adaptation, sensitization, and tolerance
               1.Acute stress
               2.Chronic stress
            iv.Maladaptive effects
     V.Psychological concepts
         a.Dimensions of stress
         b.Subjective perception of stress
         c.Regulatory range and adaptive capacity
         f.Fight or flight response
         j.Top-down influences and effects
            i.Personality type
                1. emotional intelligence
            v.Cognitive appraisal
     VI.Clinical symptoms and disorders
         a.Generalized anxiety syndrome
         b.Panic disorder
         c.General adaptive syndrome
         g.Health risk factors
     VII.History in research
             i.Hans Selye
             ii.Richard Lazarus
             iii.Jaap Koolhaas
             iv.Bruce McEwen
             v.Robert Sapolsky
             vi.Catherine Wooly
             vii.Bauke Buwalda
             viii.Alessandro Bartolomucci
             ix.James Herman
             x.Louis Lucas
          b.Stress models in research
             i.Acute versus Chronic
               1.Stress-related pathology
            ii.Animal Studies
               1.Stress Paradigms
                  a.Fear conditioning
                  b.Immobilization stress
                  c.Chronic unpredictable/variable stress
                  d.Social defeat stress
                  e.Stress and cognition
                  f.Stress and metabolism  
          c.Current research
      VIII.See also
      X.Further readings
      XI.External links

BrianMSweis (talk) 17:23, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Well, if you can cover all that, you'll certainly have accomplished something! It seems to me that the concept of homeostasis ought to be introduced right at the start, but other than that your organization looks good to me. In any case it is always easier to reorganize material once it is written than to write it in the first place. Regards, Looie496 (talk) 17:34, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Comments on the proposed re-write[edit]

This is clearly a very inclusive model for the stress page. The organization seems good. Because this is such a general topic, I would recommend having many of the subheadings being short summaries or links to other pages, because the lay reader could easily become overwhelmed with this much information. Be sure to define and/or explain some of the more complicated concepts that may not be obvious to a non-biologist, like top-down processing and adaptation. I like that you included intro and advanced sections for more information. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mrusch29 (talkcontribs) 21:16, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

I'd like to second the above points, as Wikipedia is not a textbook, though of course based on reliable secondary sources. When the article is listing facts about brain structures and brain chemistry and mental disorders etc, and then tying them into the stress concept, I'm not sure if that's coming at it from the right way around.
I do agree with questioning and trying to clarify to what extent 'stress' is considered a common concept in biology and psychology. An emotion (and cognitive appraisal) of 'being stressed' seems to have very little directly to do with a biochemical model of homeostasis (which in turn cannot be treated as equivalent to models of 'fight or flight' function of the nervous system). I also think the content of social stress is relevant. EverSince (talk) 12:44, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback everyone! A lot of the subheadings need expanding/reworking - much of the content that was on this page before the reorganization is still on here simply to help get some of the headings in the outline that I haven't written rolling (I think I just noticed that social stress was added while I was editing the page the other day and didn't notice I might have accidentally taken it out - I'd would be happy to promptly return it--as a subheading under the "psychological concepts" to complement the animal behavior model of social stress in the research heading later in the outline --- Dr. John Cacioppo is a big name in social stress research and should be on there when that section gets developed).
After spending a lot of time thinking about the organization of the biology of stress and reading above posts, it seemed like a strong idea to give a brief background of the key body parts and how they relate to stress first before diving into other areas. To comment on your last point, that's what I think is the "beauty"/endless ambiguity of the definition of stress - an argument can be made so far as to call "emotion" a product of biology. Depression, for example, has very strong roots in "a disrupted biology" but to us seems abstractly "psychological." If you don't want to be too reductionist and claim that biology "underlies" psychology, another argument could be made to create an analogy between biological homeostasis and psychological homeostasis. Getting fired from a job, getting married, getting divorced (both positive and negative external stimuli), or things within your own conscious mind: remembering a happy child hood event or a terrible one....these can change our psychological, emotional, cognitive processes in one direction or another away from "baseline psychological homeostasis," a point that is optimal for our best, most functional performance (the "normal" point around which the DSM diagnoses psychological disorders). And again, stress could be the thing driving our "affect" away from homeostasis (good or bad or whatever), or stress could be what we psychologically do to bring things back to baseline (cope, cry, hyperventilate, whatever it may be - it's a very intricately interwoven web between both biology and psychology). BrianMSweis (talk) 16:52, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
I appreciate your discussion of plans here, I wasn't around to comment before or now tell what was ongoing. I'd just been thinking that the intro needed to give more indication of the ambiguities around the term so was glad to see you'd done that. Ultimately it would reflect and summarise the balance of the body of the article as it ends up.
Re. social stress (which I think was created by someone else on the APS drive?) I'm actually wondering whether it should be in a separate article. There's a lot of overlap in content and as we are social animals I'd question only social stress being split off on its own. Though as you say it could be summarised here too. The social defeat approach is more directly tied to animal models but also seems to some extent separate from stress research, though that article nicely points out possible reasons for that.
Personally I suspect the coverage of the various specific brain functions & neurotransmitters & hormones etc, would be better summarised rather than detailed into subsections, but I realise that may depend on how the article evolves given length restrictions.
Very interesting points re. the mind-brain issue and functioning. I was coming at this from point of view of accepting emotions as biological - but I don't think that necessarily means they can be defined as control mechanisms for responding to homeostatic imbalances or demands just because they are aversive and 'stressful'. They may have evolved and developed for all kinds of specific functions and behaviors. And in terms of disrupted, it's really not clear for many of the higher-level processes what is the normal or adaptive range of functioning, in an evolutionary or cultural context, and what is a failure of the basic functioning of the organism (but then the stress concept can cover both anyway). It's possible to make the definition so broad it covers everything whether viewed as an analogy or not, but I was just looking at homeostasis and apparently it developed from Milieu intérieur which was an attempt to avoid the vagueness of life force so... In the end the article has to reflect the coverage out there anyyway so will have to see but I think it will be great to have these points covered. EverSince (talk) 23:17, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

This article is very trustworthy, unbiased, very complete, very well-written,and very accurate. I can't think of anything else to add! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rsilton (talkcontribs) 02:37, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

Removal of the paragraph referring to homeostasis in the beginning.[edit]

I apologize for my lack of English grammar, but I believe that the paragraph explaining homeostasis in depth is not necessary.

I refer to these two: Homeostasis is a concept central to the idea of stress. In biology, most biochemical processes strive to maintain equilibrium, a steady state that exists more as an ideal and less as an achievable condition. Environmental factors, internal or external stimuli, continually disrupt homeostasis; an organism’s present condition is a state in constant flux wavering about a homeostatic point that is that organism’s optimal condition for living. Factors causing an organism’s condition to waver away from homeostasis can be interpreted as stress. A life-threating situation such as a physical insult or prolonged starvation can greatly disrupt homeostasis. On the other hand, an organism’s effortful attempt at restoring conditions back to or near homeostasis, oftentimes consuming energy and natural resources, can also be interpreted as stress. In such instances, an organism’s fight-or-flight response recruits the body’s energy stores and focuses attention to overcome the challenge at hand. The ambiguity in defining this phenomenon was first recognized by Hans Selye in 1926 who loosely described stress as something that "…in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself, and the result of itself."[3] First to use the term in a biological context, Selye continued to define stress as "the non-specific response of the body to any demand placed upon it." Present-day neuroscientists including Bruce McEwen and Jaap Koolhaas believe that stress, based on years of empirical research, "should be restricted to conditions where an environmental demand exceeds the natural regulatory capacity of an organism."[4] Despite the numerous definitions given to stress, homeostasis appears to lie at its core. Biology has progressed in this field greatly, elucidating complex biochemical mechanisms that appear to underlie diverse aspects of stress, shining a necessary light on its clinical relevance and significance. Despite this, science still runs into the problem of not being able to settle or agree on conceptual and operational definitions of stress. Because stress is ultimately perceived as a subjective experience, it follows that its definition perhaps ought to remain fluid. For a concept so ambiguous and difficult to define, stress nevertheless plays an obvious and predominant role in the everyday lives of humans and nature alike. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:05, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

I disagree with the above comment. Maybe it should be shortened, but a solid understanding of homeostasis lies at the core of stress. It is, in a sense, the only way to know what exactly stress is, because stress itself can be so undefinable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:20, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
agree with the comment immediately above. homeostasis is the foundation of current theories of stress. Neurosciency (talk) 05:30, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

What about studies on DE in stress?[edit]

No mention of any studies on differential expression? (talk) 07:44, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Corticosteroids are transcription factors with widespread effects, so they are going to cause differential expression of many genes. Is there anything more specific you are thinking about here, or do you just think that fact should be stated? Looie496 (talk) 19:46, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Major rewrite necessary[edit]

Stress-colored chameleon

At it's current state, this article fails to adequately address the biological concept of stress. This article should explain and identify specific meanings, conditions, and symptoms of stress according to Biology, Medicine, Neuroscience, and Psychology, instead of presenting the topic in the bastardized, confused connotation of stress. It's a pretty poorly written article, and really should be reviewed and rewritten by experts or editors in the Biology or Medicine WikiProjects. What happened to the proposal the the previous sections?

If we're going to title this article under biology, then it should be a broader presentation of the biological condition of stress the way it affects animals, including humans. The reason I started this talk section is because I came across this image (right) of a chameleon that had changed colors due to its stress condition in response to the presence of the photographer. This basic, fundamental example of a stress condition/reaction in response to a stressor should be covered in this article, but it isn't. This article definitely needs some sources from Biology textbooks for guidance on the presentation of the article content. Any comments or suggestions? - M0rphzone (talk) 02:50, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

sympathetic nervous system[edit]

in the 4-5 th line of 'biological background' it is stated that sympathetic nervous system is a branch of central nervous system, while it is not so. sympathetic nervous system is a branch of the autonomic nervous system. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 06:37, 20 August 2013

‎ Thanks. Done. Leaves me wondering about the veracity of the rest of the unsourced content. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 07:10, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

adding references to the article[edit]

hi, i noticed that this article has a lot of places where citations were needed and i kind of want to fix that. can the references just be links to reviews from pubmed or do they need to be something more substantial like books or something? also is there anything i have to do to become an approved(?) wikipedia editor for neuroscience? (talk) 05:27, 25 August 2013 (UTC) oops, that was me ^ Neurosciency (talk) 05:28, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

The best way to do it is to use cite templates, which you can generate automatically from Pubmed ID numbers using the tool at Review papers from journals make excellent sources. You don't need to be approved in any way -- but I hope the problems afflicting your recent edits won't make their way into this article. Looie496 (talk) 05:45, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
thanks. i just added a couple of sources for now and a bit of information on the prefrontal cortex and stress. i was not able to get the template filler to work but i may be back to fix it later. Neurosciency (talk) 07:43, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
The way I do it is to use template cite_pmid. All you do is fill in the pmid number and the rest gets filled in automatically. --sciencewatcher (talk) 14:19, 25 August 2013 (UTC)