A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 4: Stress Management and Sleep 76 The second level of the stress response, called the resistance stage, occurs when stress is prolonged. If a stressful event or situation is prolonged, heart rate, blood pressure and other physiological responses associated with the alarm stage begin to decline, yet still remain above normal, resting levels. These levels remain elevated due to the higher than normal amount of cortisol in the blood, which can increase the risk for heart disease. Unless the stressful situation or event is eliminated, or the person is able to change their perception of the situation or event (i.e., eustress versus distress), then the third stage, or the exhaustion stage, of the stress response occurs. In this final stage, the body has depleted all of its energy resources by continually trying, but failing, to recover from the initial alarm stage. Research shows that prolonged periods of stress can contribute to numerous emotional and physiological disorders including depression, anxiety, heart disease, stroke, hypertension and immune system disturbances that increase susceptibility to infections (American Psychological Association, n.d.). Signs of the exhaustion stage include: Physiological Signs and Symptoms: Psychological Signs and Symptoms: • Hypertension • Irritability • Elevated cholesterol • Depression • Atherosclerosis • Anxiety • Heart disease • Paranoia • Stroke Male vs. Female Response to Stress Research shows that males respond to stress differently, and more aggressively, than females do. Interestingly, the difference in the stress response between genders may be a result of a particular gene that males have but females do not: the sex-determining region Y (SRY) gene. The SRY gene is located on the Y chromosome, which directs male development, may promote aggression and the fight-or-flight response to stress. Additionally, since females do not have the SRY gene, their responses to stresses are different and generally less aggressive. (Lee & Harley, 2012). Research conducted by Dasgupta (2018) suggests gender differences to stress are necessary as the fight-or-flight response is not appropriate for females with offspring. Dasgupta argues that as the primary caregiver, it is not appropriate for females to leave their offspring. Instead, women tend to form close bonds with other females so that during times