By Line Bloch, 14. June 2016
This article is a part of a series in 5 parts, taking you through the physics of stress, and how to prevent it. Start here – and dig deeper into each element.
The most important hormones when it comes to stress are – as you perhaps already know – Adrenaline and Cortisol.
But what do they do and how do they actually work? Are they dangerous and why?
Adrenaline is the major player in your body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response to dangerous situations. You know of an adrenaline kick, and you know how it feels: sweaty palms, fast heart beat, cold skin, blushing, a bit of shaking, but overall a sharp focus and heightened awareness.
The production and release of adrenaline is triggered by the sympathetic part of your autonomic nervous system as a response to dangerous situations.
The specific effects in the body to created the feelings of the adrenaline rush is:
Last two are there to save energy and fluids. You don’t need spit when you run or fight, and you have not time finding a bathroom.
Effect on Amygdala
Amygdala is part of the system triggering release of adrenaline, but there is a feedback loop, where adrenaline boosts the amygdala-driven emotional learning, and also induces more fear and aggressiveness.
Effect on hippocampus
Adrenaline also hit hippocampus, and stimulates the creation of lasting memories of the event.
The good thing about adrenaline – apart from the vital role it plays in our survival in dangerous situations, is that it is in the blood very fast, and out again very fast. Within 1-2 hours after the event, your body is back to normal.
What happens if we get too much, too long?
Adrenaline kicks can give dizziness, lightheaded-ness and vision changes – and basically it is a strain on the body. Adrenaline is intended to be in the body only short, and is exhausting if prolonged.