General Adaptation Syndrome

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  • A term, originally described by Hans Selye (1907–1982), used to describe the body's short-term and long-term reactions to stress. Stressors in humans are events or situations that impinge on us physically or psychologically. They can be external, such as work pressures, surviving natural disasters, chronic health problems, or the loss of a loved one, or internal, such as recurring fears, worries, prolonged grieving, conflicts, or the inability to solve a problem.

    Selye described three distinctive phases in the syndrome's progression: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Phase 1, alarm, is the immediate reaction to stress that occurs when we suddenly encounter a major stressor or a flood of minor ones. The body mobilizes its flight or flight response, whereby the sympathetic nervous system is activated, increasing the heart ...

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