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General Adaptation Syndrome


The definition of general adaptation syndrome is the stages where the body goes through in response to stress and physiological changes. There are three stages to general adaptation syndrome: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The more stages your body goes through, the greater risk of long term negative effects. When there is prolonged stress, this would impact physical and mental health


  1. Alarm

First, it would initiate the body’s initial response to stress -- fight-or-flight response. This is where the body's sympathetic nervous system (regulates function of heart, stomach, bladder, intestines, muscles) is activated by the sudden release of hormones which stimulates adrenal glands and trigger the release of certain hormones, e.g adrenaline, noradrenaline

The physical symptoms to this stage include increased heart rate and breathing rate, dilated pupils, trembling, pale/flushed skin etc. Most of the symptoms disappear in the second stage and reappear in the third stage

  1. Resistence

This is when the body is repairing after the initial shock of stress. When the stressful situation is no longer present, it is said to have overcome stress. However, if a stressful situation continues, the body will not return to normal functioning level and continue secreting stress hormones, causing heart and blood pressure to remain high.

The symptoms responded to prolonged stress include disturbances in the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems, headache, sleeplessness, depression and poor concentration.

  1. Exhaustion

This is when prolonged stress leads to exhaustion, which drains physical and mental resources and the body can no longer cope with stress.

The symptoms in stage of exhaustion are fatigue and extreme burnout. The effects after exhaustion include weakened immune system, increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes etc. and mental health disorder, e.g depression, anxiety


All of us have different stressors, whether it is a distress or an eustress.

  1. Distress

  2. Daily stress

This includes pressure at school, at work, at home and from daily life

  1. Sudden change in life

  • E.g divorce, illness, death

  1. Traumatic experience

  • E.g abuse, war

B. Eustress (positive stress)

  • E.g stress of exam —> some of the students may feel more motivated


There are some stress management skills that can be adapted into daily life in order to control our stress. This includes diaphragmatic breathing, guided imagery, mindfulness

and progressive muscle relaxation


Researcher- Karina


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