Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
- Stress facts
- What is stress?
- A brief history of stress
- What are the signs and symptoms of poorly managed stress?
- Who is most vulnerable to stress?
- Teen stress
- What is the healthy response to stress?
- How does the response to stress work?
- What is the role of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (grouping) in stress?
- What is the role of the locus coeruleus in stress?
- How do the connections in the brain work in stress?
- What do we know about using (activating) and overusing our internal systems that respond to stress?
- What are the effects of stress on medical and psychological conditions?
- Conclusions about the effects of stress
- What can people do for stress management?
- What's in the future for stress?
- Diet for Stress Management Slideshow
- Take the Stress Quiz!
- Tips for Exercise, Diet and Stress Reduction Slideshow
- Stress Rxlist FAQs
- Patient Comments: Stress - Physical Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Stress - Management
- Patient Comments: Stress - Teen Symptoms
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
- Stress is a normal part of life that can either help us learn and grow or can cause us significant problems.
- Stress releases powerful neurochemicals and hormones that prepare us for action (to fight or flee).
- If we don't take action, the stress response can create or worsen health problems.
- Prolonged, uninterrupted, unexpected, and unmanageable stresses are the most damaging types of stress.
- Stress can be managed by seeking support from loved ones, regular exercise, meditation or other relaxation techniques, structured timeouts, and learning new coping strategies to create predictability in our lives.
- Many behaviors that increase in times of stress and maladaptive ways of coping with
stress -- drugs, pain medicines, alcohol, smoking, and eating -- actuallyworsen the stress and can make us more reactive (sensitive) to further stress.
- While there are promising treatments for stress, the management of stress is mostly dependent on the ability and willingness of a person to make the changes necessary for a healthy lifestyle.
What is stress?
Stress is simply a fact of nature -- forces from the inside or outside world affecting the individual. The individual responds to stress in ways that affect the individual as well as their environment. Because of the overabundance of stress in our modern lives, we usually think of stress as a negative experience, but from a biological point of view, stress can be a neutral, negative, or positive experience.
In general, stress is related to both external and internal factors. External factors include the physical environment, including your job, your relationships with others, your home, and all the situations, challenges, difficulties, and expectations you're confronted with on a daily basis. Internal factors determine your body's ability to respond to, and deal with, the external stress-inducing factors. Internal factors which influence your ability to handle stress include your nutritional status, overall health and fitness levels, emotional well-being, and the amount of sleep and rest you get.
Stress has driven evolutionary change (the development and natural selection of species over time). Thus, the species that adapted best to the causes of stress (stressors) have survived and evolved into the plant and animal kingdoms we now observe.
Man is the most adaptive creature on the planet because of the evolution of the human brain, especially the part called the neo-cortex. This adaptability is largely due to the changes and stressors that we have faced and mastered. Therefore, we, unlike other animals, can live in any climate or ecosystem, at various altitudes, and avoid the danger of predators. Moreover, most recently, we have learned to live in the air, under the sea, and even in space, where no living creatures that we know of have ever survived. So then, what is so bad about stress?
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