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General Adaptation Syndrome Definition, Meaning, Stages, Examples

General adaptation syndrome is the response towards stress. It consist of three main stages through which patient passes every time when he is under stress. It is the collection of physiological changes which occurs in patient in response to stress. It was 1st discovered in rats when they were checked under stressful conditions. It is a typical response to stress not a specific case. Stress is basically a mental condition in which patient feels pressure on his mind but show physical response. General adaptation syndrome is considered a vital for calculating physical response towards stress. It is also helpful in checking stress level in patient.


There are two main causes reported I.e. Psychological stress and past life events. To treat general adaptation syndrome, the cause should be clear. Patient counseling helps a lot to find out the reason triggering stress. So physician design some life style changes to combat stress. There are some techniques which helps a lot in reducing stress. Meditation is the common management technique. Deep breathing in morning and evening and specially at the time of stress will help a lot in relaxing body and mind. Relaxing baths are also popular. Yoga and Tai chi are the best management options.

General Adaptation Syndrome Definition, Meaning, Stages, Examples

General Adaptation Syndrome Stages


General adaptation syndrome is the process which consists of three main stages i.e. alarm reaction, resistance and exhaustion stage.

Alarm Reaction Stage


In alarm reaction stage, the 1st disturbed signal is passed on to hypothalamus. Hypothalamus trigger release of glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids inturn release cortisol and adrenaline. These are the stress hormones. Adrenaline is known for its energy. So it gives energy to body and heart start beating fast. Blood pressure may rise along with blood sugar level.

Resistance Stage


In resistance stage, the body itself tries to stop all physiological changes occurring in body in alarm reaction stage. Parasympathetic nervous system is the part of autonomic nervous system and govern resistance stage. Parasympathetic nervous system helps to lower the level of cortisol resulting in lower blood pressure and heart rate. If stress reduces or eliminates during resistance stage, the body will become normal. And if stressful conditions persist, the stress hormones will continue releasing.

Exhaustion Stage


It is the final stage of general adaptation syndrome. After long term stress, the patients body pass on to final stage. In this stage, there is no energy left in body due to continuous struggle against stress. Patients body is no more in fighting state so patient feels tiredness, anxiety and depression.

General Adaptation Syndrome Examples


General adaptation syndrome may occur in various forms like in jobless people, medically ill patients, any kind of trauma, financial problems and family breakdown. In all these conditions, the stress level is different. During alarm stage flight or fight response helps a lot in combating stress. General adaptation syndrome is adapted in athletes to make them aware about stress in games. Every athlete is trained according to his physiological response towards stress. It commonly occur in women as compare to men.
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