Health Symptoms & Causes

What is Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome theory of stress?

general adaptation syndrome

We all go through to stress in one way or the other in our life. Most of the time we cannot isolate ourselves from the stress that we face in different tough situations. We don’t realize the negative effects of stress on our bodies whenever we encounter any stressful situation. One must understand that whenever a person goes through mental pressure then the body responds to this stress because prolonged stress can be more harmful and it is associated with a number of complications. Here I will discuss general adaptation syndrome levels and its management.

What is a general adaptation syndrome?

General adaptation syndrome (GAS) is a process that explains the changes that occur in our body whenever we come across any stressful situation. The general adaptation syndrome was first discovered by Hans Selye who clearly described the side effects of stress on the human body. In an experiment, Hans Selye exposed the lab rats to a stressful situation and observed the occurrence of psychological changes that occurred in rats. After this experiment, Selye concluded that this was not a specific case but the body’s general response to stress. From there on General adaptation syndrome stages were explained by Selye and that are alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.

What are the 3 stages of General adaptation syndrome?

The general adaptation syndrome explained by Hans Selye talks about the body’s response whenever it passes through a tough event. In the general adaptation syndrome model, Selye discussed general adaptation syndrome theory and concluded that it is the body’s natural response to different stressors.

Alarm reaction stage:

It is the initial stage when the body shows the early symptoms whenever it comes across a stressful situation. After such a stressful situation the fight or flight psychological response system gets activated. It is the body’s natural response that tells you to protect yourself from that life-threatening situation or danger. You will observe an increase in your heart rate and the stress hormone that is cortisol gets released. This results in an energy boost by adrenaline. This psychological change is our body’s natural response that occurs in this alarm reaction stage.

Resistance stage:

Most people ask what happens during the resistance stage of stress. All such people must know that after the fight or flight response due to a tough situation, our body prepares itself to neutralize the effects caused by that stressful situation. It is the time when the body has used all its defenses and now it needs the energy to cope up with the damage caused to muscle tissues. There is a release of cortisol in less amount to normalize the blood pressure and heart rate. It can also be called a recovery stage in which if stress overcomes then everything comes to normal but if such a situation continues for a longer period of time then the body is at high risk and it adapts itself to live under this stressful situation. It is the time when different kinds of changes occur in our bodies that we are unfamiliar with. These changes have occurred because our body is trying to cope up with such stress. Then the stress hormone is secreted continuously and the body’s blood pressure and heart rate continue to increase.  It appears as if a person is managing this stress but in reality, it is not the case. If such a stressful duration continues without any pause then there can be more damage to the body such as frustration, irritation and lack of concentration.

Exhaustion stage:

It is the final stage of stress that results due to a prolonged stressful situation. In this final stage, the body has lost all its emotional, physical and mental energies. Now a person is not able to cope with any kind of stress because he is left with no energy but eventually gets hopeless and fails to deal with this prolonged stress. Some of the obvious signs in this stage are depression, anxiety, a decline in stress tolerance and others. The immune system of the body gets destroyed and it is at a greater risk of getting some serious health issues in the long run.

When does general adaptation syndrome occur?

General adaptation syndrome occurs whenever our body goes through a stressful situation such as losing a job, traumatic situation, and loss of family, financial problem or any health illness. In all these situations the stress that the body goes through is immense. The fight or flight response in the initial stage of GAS is your body’s security. The more the amount of stress hormone, the greater is its benefit to the body. Because the body gets adequate energy to get back its focus and concentration required to cope with such a situation. When stress is for a short period of time then the alarm stage is not that harmful but if we talk about prolonged stress then it is very dangerous for the health. In the final exhaustion stage, a body is at risk of getting serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, organ failure, and extreme depression. It is the time when the immune system of the body has become very weak and it is prone to getting infections and tumors.

Is the management of general adaptation syndrome possible?

Yes, anyone can manage stress easily. As the first step, you have to understand the situations that lead to stress. You need to understand the things that trigger stress then you need to control them right there. This may require making some lifestyle changes so that you can avoid stress as much as you can. A daily life example is that if a person has a job in a remote area then such a job becomes stressful and a good way to avoid the stress is changing your job location. The health experts focus more on performing physical activity because this helps you to improve your overall health that helps to get better sleep at night and for that, you can go for meditation, yoga, walking, deep breathing and spending quality time with your family.

Final words:

Stress is very harmful to the body that occurs because of any stressful event. The general adaptation syndrome of Selye deals with the body experiencing physical and mental stress. First of all, you need to understand the initial stages of stress and after that, you need to learn the ways to manage this stress. It is very important that your body is healthy to manage the stress and you can do so by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, and socialization with people and others. You need to manage your stress in its early stage otherwise prolonged stress can have damaging effects on your health in the long run.

You can read this article as well marie antoinette syndrome

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About the author

Jennifer K. Garcia

Jennifer K. Garcia is a is a health consultant form last 6 year. She is finally decided to run a blog to help people online.You can contact her via Email or follow her on Facebook. Also add him on