Posted on: May 6, 2020 Posted by: pureamagazine Comments: 0
Stress and General Adaptation Syndrome

Outline (S & GAS):

Stress & General Adaptation Syndrome was accidentally discovered by Selye while he was doing experiments on rats at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Selye performed several experiments of rats in which they were subjected to different stress mechanisms such as exposure to high temperatures, injected with different pollutants as well as their bodies were made to endure excessive exertion. All of the physiological responses to these stressful situations were then recorded.

Explanation (S&GAS): 

The body wants to keep its natural state of homeostasis. This is done by using the hormonal system that includes the combat or flight response. With this response, the body notifies us whenever put through stressful conditions and releases specific hormones to neutralize the stressful condition thus maintaining its state of homeostasis. This is how the body combats the pressure in stressful circumstances and we can say that this war of the body against stress is focus of the General Adaptation Syndrome.

Selye stated that no matter what sort of stressful condition the rats were put through, the results obtained would be somewhat similar as the response to those situation was not dependent upon the type of stimulus rather all the responses represented general reactions when put through such situations.

Selye furthermore stated that if the stress gets prolonged, the consequences can be pretty severe as the body can keep up only to a certain extent. Our bodies have evolved over the years and the body knows how to respond to brief stress conditions. But still the body fails significantly if it is put through chronic pressure even if it is mild. And this chronic stress is experienced daily by the human beings in various forms such as time pressure, courting pressure, crowding, noise, crime, over burden of tasks and even education related stress stimulus. It is the negative effect of these stress stimuluses that underlie General Adaptation Syndrome.

Selye also stated that even though the body acts immediately in stressful conditions, there are limits to this phenomenon too. And these limits get intensified when the stress is continued for a prolonged period.

Explanation Stress and General Adaptation Syndrome

1) Stages of GAS:

General Adaptation Syndrome consists of 3 stages: the alarm stage, the resistance stage, and the exhaustion stage. The alarm level is similar to the fight and flight response. Then the resistance gets built up if the stress continues. The exhaustion stage shows exhaustion symptoms in case the body is unable to overcome stress.

– Alarming Stage:

This is the first stage and the initial reaction of the frame to stress in which it identifies the stress as a risk to homeostasis and immediately activates its fight or flight response system. This activation then releases adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol which are stress hormones.

This stage can be demonstrated by the example of fire in residence. Whenever that happens, the body shifts to alarm stage, releasing the stress hormones which allows the person to do actions which the body normally can’t do. This whole condition can make the whole situation worse in case the blood pressure shoots and this can lead to damaging both brain and heart. Tissue damage can also happen if the muscles are utilized to a higher extent.

– Resistance Stage:

The response to stressful condition get moderate or eradicated once the body has responded to the stressful condition. One thing to keep in mind is the our body’s defenses get weaker because the energy and focus has be put into repairing the damaged muscle tissue that was damaged due to intense response to the stressful environment. In addition to this, energy has to be allocated to lowering the stress hormones that were released as a reaction to the stress.

Nevertheless, the body still keeps its hormonal response active especially when the stress stimulus has not been eradicated even though the intensity gets lowered compared to the alarm stage. 

– Exhaustion Stage:

When the exhaustion phase comes, the sources get depleted as the body has utilized its sources to repair itself after the hormonal response to stress. This recovery then continues if the danger and stress has been eradicated. The stage is named “exhaustion” because the body gets exhausted by continually dealing with stress and starts showing symptoms of exhaustion.

This can be understood by this example. Suppose your parents say that you are going to take exams next month. The first stage kicks in, as you start to experience stress. In the resistance stage, you do your preparation as you go through the syllabus and start reading the recommended books. As the time passes by, you start having thoughts that you might fail the exams, anxiety kicks in leading to a depressed state of constant worry and anxiety. This is the exhaustion stage which can have negative effect if the body assets start to deplete. The immune system may also get exhausted in the meantime leading to illness in the long run. During all these stage, the hormones keep on getting released unless the stress stimulus has been eradicated. This is how stress can damage your body both internally and externally.

2) Stress: Beneficial?

Stress can be beneficial too if the limit does not get exceeded as it can help the person remain active and alert and offers push of energy. This sudden rush of energy can save you from accident on the road if you perceive a vehicle aiming to hit you. But feeling pressured for a long time can take a toll on your mental and bodily health. Even though it may seem tough to discover ways to de-strain with all the things you have to do, it’s crucial to find those ways. Your fitness relies upon on it.

Stages of GAS


The first step to controlling General Adaptation Syndrome is to identify the stress stimulus. One has to know his weak points and keep in mind which particular event or activity can trigger his body to react to thereby releasing stress hormones. The person can then make certain modification to his lifestyle or his routine to make sure that stress stimulus are kept at bay and the body keeps its homeostasis most of the time. Read more