3 stages of GAS
The three stages of general adaptation syndrome include the alarm stage, resistance stage, and exhaustion stage. Learn the three stages of GAS below.
General adaptation syndrome is a universal and predictable response pattern to all stressors, whether they are good (referred to as eustress) or bad (referred to as stress), called distress.
It consists of the following three-stage physiological response of an organism to severe stress.
Stage I: Alarm reaction
The body is prepared for quick fight or flight responses.
- Any kind of physical or emotional trauma will set off a chain reaction of stress responses. Normal levels of resistance are reduced because the immune system is suppressed at first, making us more vulnerable to infection and disease. This stage includes both shock and counter-shock phases.
- Several organ systems undergo significant changes during the shock phase. The blood flow is diverted to the lungs, heart, and brain at the expense of gastrointestinal blood flow and blood flow to the skin.
Stage II: Resistance
If a stressor persists, the release of stress hormones from the pituitary gland and adrenal cortex increases, and the first-stage alarm symptoms subside, giving the appearance of a return to physiological normal functioning.
- We adapt to stress over time, often quickly. As a result, we become more resistant to illness and disease. Our immune system works overtime to keep up with the demands placed on it at this time.
- We become oblivious to our surroundings and believe that we can withstand the consequences of stress indefinitely.
- This is where the danger lies. We typically do nothing in response to stress because we believe we are immune to its effects.
- If the resistance stage lasts too long, the body will remain on high alert and continue to produce stress hormones.
- The following are symptoms of the resistance stage:
- Poor concentration
Stage III: Exhaustion
If the stressor lasts longer than the body's defenses can handle, the internal environment of the body (homeostatic milieu) is disturbed. Blood pressure remains high, sugar levels increase and there are ulcers in the gastrointestinal lining. Although no two people have the same level of stress resistance and tolerance, everyone's immunity eventually breaks down as a result of chronic stress reactions.
- Researchers refer to this as a disease of adaptation because it causes life-sustaining mechanisms to slow down, organ systems to fail, and our stress-fighting reserves to deplete.
- The shock phase of alarm reaction is essentially repeated during the exhaustion stage, resulting in:
The primary reason why stress causes so many health problems is thought to be general adaptation syndrome. Stress disrupts our bodies' natural equilibrium (homeostasis) that is essential for our well-being. It can shorten our life span by hastening the aging process.
What is distress?
We are challenged beyond our physical, mental, and emotional resources when we are in distress. According to the American Psychological Association, stress can be either acute or chronic.
- The most common type of stress is short-term and stems from workplace/social demands and pressures, as well as anticipated future demands and pressures.
Long-term stress is caused by unending feelings of despair/hopelessness caused by factors such as:
- Family dysfunction
- Feelings of helplessness and/or traumatic early childhood experiences
- Perceived discrimination
- Neighborhood stress
- Daily stress
- Family stress
- Acculturative stress
- Environmental stress
- Maternal stress
All chronic stressors are associated with health disparities.
How can I prevent general adaptation syndrome exhaustion?
There is no quick fix for managing stress, and no method is universally effective. However, there are some simple changes you can make to manage stress levels in your life. A few examples include techniques for relaxation, walking, exercise, and having a positive conversation with someone close to you.
- Walking, yoga, exercises, and swimming have all been demonstrated to relieve stress by assisting the release of positive stress-busting endorphins in the brain, which can enhance self-confidence and alleviate anxiety and depression symptoms.
- Stress alleviation can be achieved by eating a nutritious whole-food diet rich in dark greens and chlorophyll-containing foods and engaging in frequent physical activity.
- Because chronic stress can deplete your body of key B vitamins, magnesium, and calcium, obtaining these nutrients through food or supplementation is critical.
- Caffeine and sugar should be consumed in moderation because these stimulants can contribute to stress and sadness.
- Stress can physically fatigue your body, and if you don't get enough sleep, you'll feel the effects of stress even more.
- Learn new ways of thinking to help reduce stress. Knowing when to let go and thinking positively about your life will keep you from becoming stressed.
- To offset the stress response, you can use breathing control exercises to engage your parasympathetic nervous system, which will help you relax. Deep breathing exercises are designed to draw your attention to your breathing, slowing it down, and making it deeper.
- Positive physical touch boosts oxytocin production while lowering cortisol levels. As a result, blood pressure, heart rate, stress, and anxiety are all reduced. Hug your family and loved ones.
- Meditation is a technique for training the body's natural therapeutic relaxation response. People who learn to meditate say that they are less affected by pain or stress.
Controlling your thoughts is only half the battle; if you work on reducing stress by a healthy lifestyle and dietary changes, you can avoid growing stress-related disorders.
A professional can help you cope with stress by developing solutions that are tailored to your specific circumstances and personality. Don't wait until your mental health and quality of life are in peril to see a psychologist.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
General adaptation syndrome (GAS): https://www.med.muni.cz/patfyz/pdf/new/adapt_sy_a.pdf
The Stress Response: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/216507998002801202
Top Three Stages of General Adaptation Syndrome Related Articles
Anxiety, Stress, and WorryWant to find ways to reduce anxiety, stress, and worry? Find treatments to ease stress, eliminate worry, and combat anxiety as you discover how stress affects your body. Learn whether stress fights colds or encourages them, why some stress is bad and some is good, and why exercise and diet can be relaxing.
Stress-Reducing FoodsWhile there are many ways to cope with stress, one strategy is to eat stress-fighting foods. Find out which foods to eat as part of a stress management diet.
Exercise Stress TestStress tests are performed by a doctor or trained technician to determine the amount of stress that your heart can manage before developing either an abnormal rhythm or evidence of ischemia. Your doctor uses the stress test to determine if there is adequate blood flow to your heart during increasing levels of activity, evaluate the effectiveness of your heart medications to control angina and ischemia, determine the likelihood of having coronary heart disease and the need for further evaluation, check the effectiveness of procedures done to improve blood flow within the heart vessels in people with coronary heart disease, identify abnormal heart rhythms, and to help you develop a safe exercise program. Preparation for these types of stress tests will vary. Ask your doctor about any specific instructions.
How Can Stress Affect Your Skin?Your skin has a direct connection to your brain. Recent research has shown that your skin can perceive stress and respond to it.
How Do You Instantly Relieve Stress?Managing stress leads to a state of “well-being and contentment.” Maintaining a stress-free life takes work and time. One can accomplish that by taking steps each day to reduce stress and increase joy. What makes one person happy does not necessarily work for another person.
What Are the Physical and Emotional Signs of Stress?What effect does stress have in the body and mind? Learn about stress and its symptoms, signs, causes, and treatments.
StressStress occurs when forces from the outside world impinge on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life. However, over-stress, can be harmful. There is now speculation, as well as some evidence, that points to the abnormal stress responses as being involved in causing various diseases or conditions.
Stress Management TechniquesStress may be considered as any physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental unrest and that may be a factor in disease causation. Managing stress in our lives is important. Elimination of stress is unrealistic, since stress is a part of normal life. We can however, learn to manage stress through techniques such as exercise, relaxation, meditation, time management, and support systems so that we have control over our stress and its effects on our physical and mental health.
Stress QuizStress creeps into everyone's life at one time or another, while some people will suffer from poorly managed chronic stress. If you're suffering, there are things you can do. Take the Stress Quiz to learn what you can do to beat the long-term effects of chronic stress.
The Effects of Stress: 15 Signs and SymptomsAlmost every person in life experiences certain situations that cause them stress. There is something known as eustress, which is positive stress, that makes you finish things faster. And it is completely fine to feel stressed out once in a while. But, when you experience stress more often, to the point that it has become chronic or persistent, the negative stress (known as distress) can affect your health badly.
What Are the Common Signs of Stress?Stress is your body’s natural response to challenging situations in your life. So, feeling stressed once in a while is completely normal. It is your stress that makes you finish ‘that’ important project faster and within the deadline, than you would have in the absence of stress.
What Does an Exercise Stress Test Show?An exercise stress test (treadmill test/exercise test/stress test) helps your doctor to find how well your heart works during physical activity. As exercise makes your heart work harder and pump faster, an exercise stress test may reveal problems with blood flow within your heart. It involves walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike till you achieve a particular heart rate and monitoring of your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing during these activities.
What Is a Pharmacologic Stress Testing Used For?Pharmacologic stress testing is a method of testing heart function by administering certain medications that mimic the response of the heart to physical stress (exercise). You may get a pharmacologic stress test done if you are unable walk or run on a treadmill). During the test, drugs such as adenosine, dobutamine, regadenoson or dipyridamole make the heart respond as if you are exercising.
What Is the Effect of Stress?Stress is the body’s response to a situation. It is typically a change in the environment that requires one’s body to react and adjust. These changes evoke physical, mental and emotional reactions in a person. Short-term stress will have no significant impact on the body. Long-term stress may cause various issues. The diseases that often arise due to long-standing stress are called psychosomatic diseases.
What Is Treadmill Stress Testing?During the treadmill stress test, your heart rate, blood pressure, and electrocardiograph (ECG) are monitored while you walk fast on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle. Treadmill testing is used to check the capacity of your heart during periods of exertion, know if your chest pain is due to a heart problem, see how well your heart medications are working, check the success of cardiac procedures such as angioplasty or bypass surgery that you have undergone for coronary heart disease, to predict your risk of getting a heart attack, or decide a customized and safe exercise program for you.