McEwen, Bruce S. Department of Neurosciences, Rockefeller University, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:September 2016
- Stressors and stress response
- Brain–body interactions
- Nervous system
- Endocrine system
- Interactions between the endocrine system and brain
- Other interactions
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A general term used to describe environmental events of a challenging sort as well as the body's response to such events, in which a sense of control and ability to cope is an important factor in determining responses. In a general biological sense, stress can be defined as a stimulus or succession of stimuli of such magnitude as to tend to disrupt the homeostasis of an organism. Psychologically, stress is an emotional or mental state resulting from tense or overwhelming circumstances (Fig. 1). Of particular interest has been the relationship between stress and the body's adaptation to it on the one hand and the body's susceptibility to disease on the other. Both outcomes involve behavioral and brain changes as well as psychosomatic events, that is, changes in body function arising from the ability of the brain to control such function through neural output and hormones. See also: Adaptation (biology); Disease; Emotion; Homeostasis; Mental disorders; Psychology; Psychosomatic disorders
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