Why do people react differently to stress?


In our ancestors, stress reactions served to put the body on high alert and to ensure survival. In danger, the heart beat faster, the breath quickened, the muscles tensed and the pupils dilated. The body was literally "ready to jump". At the same time, the digestive and sexual organs were working more slowly. The more precisely working but much slower cerebrum was switched off and the reactions were instinctive and therefore faster.

The physical reactions to stress are the same today as they were then. However, in our society they are not triggered by hunger, cold, attacks or hard work, but rather by sensory overload, time and performance pressure, conflicts and strokes of fate. Which stimuli are necessary for a person to feel stressed and how they cope with the situation are very different. Women generally feel stressed more quickly than men. Stress can also be perceived as something positive and trigger a feeling of satisfaction (Eustress). Some people even need it to work effectively. Negative stress (Dysstress), on the other hand, harms the body in the long run, especially if the person concerned cannot recover sufficiently between the phases of tension.

Regardless of whether it is positive or negative stress, it affects the body's metabolism equally. First, a large number of neurotransmitters are released (adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, etc.), which increase the heartbeat, blood pressure and blood sugar level and increase the concentration of gastric acid and free fatty acids. The brain and muscles are increasingly supplied with blood and oxygen, and the body is charged with energy. If this condition persists, the blood sugar level rises and the blood becomes acidic. In order to normalize energy consumption again, a counter-reaction of the body causes the bronchi to contract and the digestive organs to work again. However, the concentration of stress hormones remains high and in the long run weakens both the thyroid and the sexual organs. Inflammatory processes in the body increase. Extremely long stress weakens the body and its immune system. The sex glands no longer function properly and growth processes are stopped. This could possibly also be a reason why women do not get pregnant - they are putting too much pressure on themselves to want to have children.

Those who cannot relieve stress through relaxation techniques, sport or leisure activities and also have no chance to avoid it, may become seriously ill. The body initially reacts with tension, which leads to headache, neck pain and back pain. Digestion becomes disordered, which can result in stomach pain, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, or gas. Sometimes sleep and eating disorders occur. Signs of nervousness (grinding teeth at night, stuttering, forgetfulness) and mental disorders up to depressioncan be possible consequences. Persistent stress can ultimately lead to severe cardiovascular and kidney diseases, metabolic disorders, allergies and inflammatory diseases.

If stress is the cause of physical complaints, the person affected must first admit it and want to find a remedy. If he cannot do it on his own, he should seek professional help from a psychotherapist. However, caution is advised in this situation when using medication, alcohol or even drugs. They are supposed helpers, but only provide short-term and apparent remedies and pose a risk of addiction.