Stress can have a profound effect on all bodily functions, affecting all bodily systems, from the musculoskeletal and respiratory systems to the gastroenterological and cardiovascular systems. Stress attacks all human bodily systems, acting from certain areas of the brain throughout the human body. The part of the brain that is responsible for maintaining the balance of the whole body is called homeostasis. The endocrine and nervous systems are intertwined in maintaining homeostasis, that is, in regulating the activities of cells, tissues and organs. The hypothalamus produces hormones that trigger the processes of other hormones throughout the body (Saladin, 2021). In this way, one can imagine a connection between the disturbances of the nervous system caused by stress and the subsequent negative effects on the body. In fact, the entire hormonal background of a person can change due to stress, having a negative impact on their entire condition.
Neurotransmitters also play an important role in the balance of human systems. It should be noted that although there is a clear difference between hormones and neurotransmitters, some substances are able to perform both functions interchangeably. Both hormones and neurotransmitters affect our ability to perceive information and concentrate, and therefore their production is directly related to stress factors.
A stressful situation is just a circumstance that disrupts the balance of homeostasis and triggers the process of changes in the nervous and endocrine systems. Stressors or causes of these changes in systems range from physical to emotional (Saladin, 2021). The human body, in case of stress, launches a standard adaptation method. Traditionally adaptation is divided into three stages. The first stage is the alarm reaction – an alarming release of norepinephrine from the sympathetic nervous system and epinephrine from the adrenal gland. It should be noted that these hormones work in humans in a similar way to animals and are responsible for the reaction not to immediate danger.
The second phase is the resistance stage, which is necessary to complete the metabolism for adaptation. In the process of the first stage, energy-potent glucose is depleted, and while the nervous system continues to demand it. The hormone cortisol produced in this phase, when released continuously or excessively, affects other bodily systems. The human immune system is going through a breakdown, as cortisol suppresses the production of antibodies. Cortisol also inhibits sex hormones, having unpredictable effects on the genitourinary systems of both sexes. It should be added that the mechanism of adaptation to stress in the phase of resistance can cause ulcers due to the fact that human tissues generally heal more slowly and the autoimmune system is less resistant to ulcerative bacteria (Saladin, 2021). Thus, in the second stress phase, not only the nervous and endocrine, but also the reproductive and gastric systems of the body are attacked.
The third stage is called the exhaustion stage, and it is associated with the disappearance of fat resources, which disrupts the autonomy of homeostasis, allowing stress to destroy all bodily systems. This phase can be fraught with a decline in health with surprising severity and a quick death. This is because, without fat reserves, the body becomes dependent only on protein, which thus causes the degradation of the muscular systems. Aldosterone causes water waste, which as a result led to hypertension, during which it inhibits the elimination of potassium and hydrogen ions by the circulatory system (Saladin, 2021). As a result, blood pressure and the level of potassium in the blood rise, which is fraught with a heart attack or a complete destruction of the immune system. This demonstrates the extent to which stress can have a long-term damaging effect. However, it should be noted that short-term stress can be hardening for the psyche and body.
Saladin, K. (2021). Anatomy & physiology: The unity of form and function. McGraw Hill.