General Adaptation Syndrome

  1. Emergency Response (Alarm)
    • Fight-or-Flight OR Tend-and-Befriend
  2. Prolonged Stress Response (Resistance)
    Adaptation to the new normal

    • Panic & Anxiety
    • Shock
  3. Exhaustion

Stress Response

The Emergency Response lasts from a few minutes or hours to a couple of days. Recovery from the Emergency Response pulls the body back toward homeostasis by reversing many of the effects beyond homeostasis. Pulse decreases, breathing may slow, pain becomes acute… But adrenaline and glucocorticoid levels remain high. The Stress Response is where most LBSs live for the first weeks and months after Bomb Drop.
Stress: A state of physical or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium such as physical, chemical, or emotional trauma that causes physical or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation, physiological reactions include various hormonal responses.
Shock: This may be a mechanism the body uses to recover from the heightened Emergency Response. Reactions vary depending on the specific trauma but may include depression of the vital processes of the body that is characterized by pallor, rapid but weak pulse, rapid and shallow respiration, reduced total blood volume, low blood pressure and reduced emotional functioning or emotional paralysis. Shock may also include the freeze reaction to a threat or fear. It can occur as part of the Emergency Response, but is most prevalent within the Stress Response since it is often a result of the energy plummet following fight-or-flight.
Panic: Sudden, overwhelming and often unreasonable fear which produces hysterical or irrational behavior and renders a person unable to help themself.
Anxiety: An overwhelming sense of apprehension and psychic tension caused by the anticipation of facing danger or misfortune in the future, doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it. Physiological reactions include sweating along with increases in blood pressure, pulse, respiration, metabolism and muscle tension.
Panic and anxiety may be a part of a person’s Emergency Response, Stress Response or both.

    The Effects of a Prolonged Stress Response

  • Immune suppression
  • Digestive problems
  • Increases pain sensitivity
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Dry mouth, problems swallowing
  • Constipation, diarrhea
  • Frequent urination
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Weight gain or loss without diet
  • Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
  • Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
  • Trouble learning new information
  • Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
  • Difficulty in making decisions

  • Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness
  • Increased frustration, irritability, edginess, agitation
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased anger, hostility

  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
  • Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
  • Reduced work efficiency or productivity

After Bomb Drop the threat may not recede, but it is also not a threat of life versus death. Since the issue that caused the initial response is not resolved, a state of anxiety or depression often takes over. Tend-and-befriend may continue to be influential for both men and women during this period as both may seek support from friends, family and support groups—though women are more likely to do this than men.
The Stress Response affects memory and increases confusion. The Emergency Response enhanced memory of the moments during the experience; the response stimulated memory formation because it was emotionally charged; high-level emotions enhance memory. The state of high alert stimulated sensory receptors and other various components that helped solidify memories of the event. But unlike the fast-acting Emergency Response, prolonged stress and worry inhibit recall—earlier memories are not forgotten, but retrieval is inhibited during periods of stress and the formation of new memories may be inhibited.

I will continue to review the Stress Response in the next post.

Comments, Questions, Maybe some Answers…?
Please visit the blog and get the discussion started or help keep it going!

Series NavigationEmergency ResponseStress Response II


Stress Response I3 Comments

  1. RCR.I found this article very validating. I went through terrible anxiety and panic attacks. I found the information on here so helpful even after it has been 2 years since BD. I felt ALL of the symptoms. I tis so healing to read exactly what I went through and because of the stress, cannot remember to have put it into words aas you have here. Thanks so much for putting this out.

    • Thanks,

      I decided to write this series because of concern for those who feel they are not doing well and are failures. This sends them even into more panic. But their responses are normal.
      The Emergency Response and Exhaustion portions are minor in the series; I included them because they are part of General Adaptation Syndrome, but the series is really about stress. There are two more sections in the Stress Response that go into some more depth.
      My recent post Stress Response I

  2. yes to everything – i felt it all and still feel some of it. After 3 years, the biggest change in how I feel? At first, my husband leaving affected everything in my life – it was my life! In a way I felt I (the wife) ceased to exist – and my life ceased to exist. Now, I function on a different level – yes, I am getting divorced (not my choice) but I have my identity back separate from my marriage. Small example: I can go to the grocery store without feeling that I have a "disease" and that there is a sign on my back that people can read that says – her husband left her for another woman …. Pretty weird how it was so ALL encompassing for such a long time. I breathed, ate, and slept it and I never thought it would end. I'm still not all the way there yet, but I'm a person dammit! I'm me and that's good.

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