General adaptation syndrome: What it is, stages, and examples

General adaptation syndrome is a three-stage answer that the body has to stress. But what do the different stages involve and what examples are there of GAS in action ? stress is sometimes thought of as a mental pressure, but it besides has a physical effect on the body. Understanding the stages the body goes through when exposed to stress help people become more aware of these physical signs of stress when they occur. This article explores what general adaptation syndrome ( GAS ) is, its different stages, and when it may occur. It besides considers how people can better manage their response to stress.

Fast facts about GAS :

  • GAS is a three-stage process that the body goes through when it is exposed to stress.
  • It is vital to find ways to manage it to limit the effects on the body.
  • Causes of the process include life events and psychological stress.

What is GAS?

Stressed and depressed man holding his head, experiencing general adaptation syndrome. contribution on PinterestGAS describes the way the body responds to stress. Hans Selye, a Vienna-born scientist, working in the twentieth hundred, was the first person to describe GAS. Selye found that rats displayed a exchangeable bent of physical responses to several different stressors. The latter included cold temperatures, excessive physical exertions, and injection with toxins. The scientist explained GAS as the torso ’ south way of adapting to a perceived threat to better equip it to survive. A newspaper on Selye ’ sulfur GAS hypothesis was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology in 1946.

The three stages of GAS

The three stages of GAS are :

  • alarm reaction
  • resistance
  • exhaustion

What happens within the body during each of these stages is explored below .

Alarm reaction stage

At the alarm reaction stage, a distress signal is sent to a function of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus enables the release of hormones called glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids trip the release of epinephrine and hydrocortisone, which is a stress hormone. The epinephrine gives a person a boost of energy. Their heart rate increases and their blood coerce rises. meanwhile, blood carbohydrate levels besides go up. These physiological changes are governed by a region of a person ’ s autonomic skittish system ( ANS ) called the sympathetic branch. The alarm chemical reaction degree of the GAS prepares a person to respond to the stressor they are experiencing. This is frequently known as a “ fight or flight ” response .


During the resistor stage, the body tries to counteract the physiologic changes that happened during the alarm chemical reaction stage. The resistance stage is governed by a part of the ANS called the parasympathetic. The parasympathetic nervous system arm of the ANS tries to return the body to normal by reducing the sum of hydrocortisone produced. The heart rate and rake pressure begin to return to normal. If the nerve-racking situation comes to an end, during the electric resistance stage, the body will then return to convention. however, if the stressor remains, the torso will stay in a state of matter of alert, and stress hormones continue to be produced. This forcible answer can lead to a person struggling to concentrate and becoming irritable .

Exhaustion stage

After an drawn-out period of stress, the consistency goes into the final phase of GAS, known as the exhaustion stagecoach. At this stagecoach, the torso has depleted its energy resources by continually trying but failing to recover from the initial alarm chemical reaction stagecoach. Once it reaches the exhaustion stage, a person ’ south soundbox is no longer equipped to fight tension. They may experience :

  • tiredness
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • feeling unable to cope

If a person does not find ways to manage try levels at this degree, they are at risk of developing stress-related health conditions.

When does GAS occur?

partake on PinterestStressful life events and experiences, such as being in debt or having problems at work, may lead to GAS. Selye ’ s survey was limited to physical stressors, such as cold temperatures and physical over-exertion. however, it is now understand that life events that induce psychological stress cause the same physical reactions, as were seen in Selye ’ second report. The classify of life events that can cause a person to experience try and GAS include :

  • relationship breakdowns
  • losing a job
  • medical problems
  • money troubles

In hypothesis, the fact that these situations can cause GAS may be beneficial. The dismay reaction gives people a outburst of energy and concentration that could help them to problem-solve. For most people, however, the physical response their body goes through when they are under try is not helpful. Unlike threats people may have faced in the Stone Age, a person nowadays is improbable to be able to resolve a nerve-racking situation of contemporary life with a burst of department of energy. long-run stress can have a negative shock on a person physically and on their immune system. A 2008 paper noted that chronic stress could :

  • increase the risk of viral infection
  • increase the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • lead to stomach ulcers
  • lead to depression

A review from 2008 far explains that chronic stress is besides linked to an increased hazard of center disease .

How to manage GAS

share on PinterestWriting a journal and practicing mindfulness may help to treat GAS. The beginning step to controlling GAS is to understand what triggers stress. different things gun trigger try for different people. It is important for a person to identify what situations and events are particularly nerve-racking for them. It may then be possible to make life style changes to reduce exposure to these triggers. For model, a long commute may be nerve-racking. If so, moving job roles somewhere closer to home, or asking to work remotely, may help. When it is not possible to avoid a stress trigger, it is significant to find a manner to reduce the shock it has on body and judgment. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommend physical bodily process as a manner of reducing stress. use releases endorphins, which improve sleep and promote a common sense of wellbeing. Brisk walking or running are easy ways to take use. The postdate activities may besides help :

  • mindfulness and meditation
  • deep breathing
  • yoga and tai chi
  • relaxing baths
  • journaling
  • seeing friends to talk issues through


stress causes physical changes in the body. GAS is a three-stage serve the body goes through when exposed to nerve-racking events. long-run stress has a damaging impact on physical and mental wellbeing. The final physical stage of GAS is known as debilitation and may happen when a person is exposed to stress for extend periods of time. This, in turn, makes them more vulnerable to stress-related illness.

Understanding stress triggers may help person to make life style changes to reduce stress. Where this is not potential, finding ways to manage the impact of tension on the body and judgment is critical. Managing stress can include activities, such as deep-breathing, yoga, mindfulness, or meditation .

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