Definition: Pattern of general physical responses that take essentially the same form in responding to any serious chronic stressor.

Simply Put...

  • The body adapts to a constant stressor, resulting in other diseases.
  • The body's reaction, short or long term, to stress.
  • The gradual effect stress has on your immune system.

Examples of General Adaptation Syndrome

  • Beginning a new sport causes your body to adapt to the stressor which may cause it to collapse.
  • Going to a new school causes your body to adapt to the stressor which may cause it to have a nervous break down.
  • You are stranded in the middle of the ocean, so your mental alarm goes off. Then you go into a stage of resistance, but if you don't reach the shore fast enough, you will become exhausted, and probably drown.

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Rat Experiment

  • An unethical experiment was conducted with rats and their exposure to different stressors. The rats were exposed to harmful electrical shocks, extreme exercise extreme temperatures, drugs etc. It was revealed during the experiment that all subjects, regardless of the stressor, underwent the same three stages that contributed to their deterioration: Alarm Reaction, Resistance, and Exhaustion . The link between mental stress and physical well-being had long eluded psychologist before this experiment. The General Adaptation Syndrome suggests that Chronic stressors can decrease the efficiency of the immune system and increase risk for disease and failure of bodily functions.

See Also

  • Alarm Reaction which is the first stage in General Adaptation Syndrome
  • Resistance which is the second stage in the General Adaptation Syndrome.
  • Exhaustion which is the third and final stage in the General Adaptation Syndrome.
  • Chronic Stress which is often the cause of the decrease in the body's efficiency of the immune system.
  • Immune System which is the system the General Adaptation Syndrome is associated with.

Selye, H. (1936). A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents. Nature; Nature.

Pettit, J. W., Grover, K. E., & Lewinsohn, P. M. (2007). Interrelations between psychopathology, psychosocial functioning, and physical health: An integrative perspective. International Journal of
Clinical and Health Psychology, 7(2), 453-476.

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