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The Biology of Stress & The Brain

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I wish...I wish I were dead...”
“And what use would that be to anyone?” 
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
 
Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is... The only problem in your life is your mind's resistance to life as it unfolds. ” ~ Dan Millman
 
The general adaptation syndrome is comprised of three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. In the alarm phase, an organism prepares physiologically and psychologically to respond to a stressor.
 
This includes the release of hormones like cortisol and the activation of the HPA axis
 
In the resistance phase, the organism mobilizes resources to adapt to the continued presence of a stressor. This may include reducing non-essential metabolic activities in preference for those that support the stress response.
 
Cortisol levels remain high during this phase if the stressor is chronic. In the exhaustion phase, the physiological cost of maintaining a heightened response to the stressor begins to take its toll. Resources may be diverted away from essential systems (cf. resistance phase) which cause damage to the body and brain.

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