The documentary, “Stress, Portrait of a Killer,” provided some fascinating insight into the detrimental effects stress can have on humans and animals alike. The stress response seems to have developed from a sporadic physical reaction of survival, into a chronic issue that is in fact threatening our lives. Robert Sapolsky’s groundbreaking research uncovered serious detrimental physical effects of chronic stress on our bodies including damage to brain cells, increased risk of cancer, belly fat, and the shortening of chromosomal telomeres which cause our genes to literally fray. Those who experience chronic stress are ultimately being damaged more by the stress response than by the stressor itself. Today, there are thousands of stress management techniques as well as antidotes for the physical manifestations of stress available to us. With proof that the harmful effects of stress can be reversed and that even baboons can change their social systems in a single generation, why is it that some people continue to live with and even pursue stress? Experts believe that stress activates our central nervous system thereby creating a “natural high”, and much like drugs we can actually become addicted to it. In moderate amounts stress can increase our energy through neurotransmitters called norepinephrine, and sharpen our focus from dopamine which is appealing in a competitive and fast paced world. Stressors also wake up our neural circuitry underlying wanting and craving, therefore activating our arousal and attention systems just like drugs do. It’s quite easy to see the appeal of this natural addiction, and its transcendence over those advantages versus the adverse effects. Although it can happen to anyone, Type A personalities, or people who suffer from anxiety or depression are most likely to develop an addiction to stress. According to stress management specialist Debbie Mandel, stress addicts may be using “endless to-do lists to avoid less-easy-to-itemize...
Cited: "Killer Stress - A National Geographic Special with Robert Sapolsky : PBS." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
Schreiber, Katherine. "Can We Become Addicted to Stress?" TIME.com. N.p., 6 Sept. 2012. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
Trespicio, Terri. "Are You Addicted to Stress?" Alternet. Huffington Post, n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013.
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