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Archive for April, 2009

Undoing the Stress Response

April 10th, 2009

by Caterina Spinaris Tudor, Ph.D.

Imagine being ambushed by a mountain lion while hiking through the Colorado Rockies. As soon as the big cat knocks you to the ground, you automatically go into fighting mode. Your heart rate and blood pressure shoot up, sending extra blood to your limbs so you can have the strength to fight. Glycogen in your liver and muscles becomes converted to glucose to give you extra energy. Digestion stops. Cholesterol is released in your bloodstream to be an additional source of energy. Blood clotting factors kick into action, so you won’t bleed to death. Endorphins flood your brain to enable you to ignore the pain of bites and broken bones, so you can continue to fight. The adrenaline that floods your system increases your aggression, helping you maintain your fierce determination to survive. This simplified description of physiological changes that occur during a life-threatening attack constitutes “the stress response.”

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