What is stress-response hyperstimulation?
The moment we think we are in danger, the body immediately triggers a stress response. As you learned from the stress response page, the stress response secretes stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine) into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat—to either fight with or flee from it—which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.
Click the following link if you haven’t read the ‘stress response’ page yet.
Stress responses are our ally when in real danger and used infrequently. They can become a nemesis, however, if used too often or persistently. Here’s why:
Due to the powerful physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about, stress responses cause a disruption to normal body functioning, which can harm the body and cause it to exhibit many odd and powerful symptoms.
Moreover, stress responses stress the body because of the many changes the stress response brings about. Research has shown that a body that's under persistent stress can incur short and long-term health consequences.
For example, stress hormones cause blood vessels to constrict. They do this so that if we are cut in battle, restricted blood vessels reduce the possibility of bleeding to death. While this change is beneficial when in real danger, it can become a detriment because persistent blood vessel constriction can cause a persistent increase in blood pressure.
Furthermore, stress hormones stimulate the body's nervous system, since stress hormones are stimulants. While having a stimulated body when in real danger is beneficial to our survival, persistent stimulation can become a detriment to overall good health. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more ways too frequent stress responses can harm the body.
And if these reasons weren’t enough, as you learned from the anxiety 101 section, anxiety symptoms are actually symptoms of stress. We call them anxiety symptoms because being persistently anxious is the main source of the stress that causes the body to enter into a state of stress-response hyperstimulation. Once the body has become hyperstimulated, it can exhibit all sorts of odd and bothersome symptoms. In fact, ALL of the sensations and symptoms of anxiety are caused by either an active stress response and/or stress-response hyperstimulation.
Here are some examples:
- An overly stimulated nervous system can cause a variety of sensory, muscle function, and cognitive symptoms.
- Overly sensitive nerves can also cause a variety of odd nerve related sensations and symptoms.
- Persistent muscle tension can also cause a number of odd tension, aches, pains and mobility issues.
And so on.
Again, all anxiety sensations and symptoms are caused because of an active stress response and/or stress-response hyperstimulation due to too frequent and/or dramatic stress responses.
Behaving apprehensively activates the body’s stress response. Behaving overly apprehensively can cause too frequent and/or dramatic stress responses, which can overly stress the body. A body that becomes overly stressed (stress-response hyperstimulated) can exhibit all kinds of odd and problematic symptoms, such as the many symptoms associated with anxiety unwellness.
Fortunately, hyperstimulation and its negative effects can be reversed. Knowing how to reverse it should be a skill in every anxiety sufferer’s skillset.
The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - we call these core causes the underlying factors of anxiety - a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.
For more information about our Anxiety Therapy, Coaching, Counseling option; our Available Anxiety Therapists; to Book An Appointment with one of our anxiety therapists; common Symptoms of Anxiety; Anxiety Attack Symptoms; anxiety Recovery Support area; common Anxiety Myths; and our Anxiety 101 section; or click on the appropriate graphic below:
Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated July 2016.