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, 30 (5), 315-8

Stressed or Stressed Out: What Is the Difference?

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Stressed or Stressed Out: What Is the Difference?

Bruce S McEwen. J Psychiatry Neurosci.

Abstract

The term "allostasis" has been coined to clarify ambiguities associated with the word "stress". Allostasis refers to the adaptive processes that maintain homeostasis through the production of mediators such as adrenalin, cortisol and other chemical messengers. These mediators of the stress response promote adaptation in the aftermath of acute stress, but they also contribute to allostatic overload, the wear and tear on the body and brain that result from being "stressed out". This conceptual framework has created a need to know how to improve the efficiency of the adaptive response to stressors while minimizing overactivity of the same systems, since such overactivity results in many of the common diseases of modern life. This framework has also helped to demystify the biology of stress by emphasizing the protective as well as the damaging effects of the body's attempts to cope with the challenges known as stressors.

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