The psychobiological concept of stress built up over the years since the 1930s. The understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms involved has progressed remarkably during the past years. This article provides an overview of the recent data opposing acute and chronic stress. The former is an adaptative response of the organism to cope with the fluctuations of the environment and thereby is essential for survival. By contrast, chronic stress is deleterious and leads to various disease states in vulnerable individuals. Its adverse effects on the brain and the body result from a dysregulation of the stress system with various origins and mechanisms which we will discuss in this review.
© 2012 médecine/sciences – Inserm / SRMS.