Chronic Stress Physiology in the Adopted Child & Adult Adoptee
Chronic stress is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period over which an individual perceives he or she has no control. It involves an endocrine system response in which occurs a release of corticosteriods. While the immediate effects of stress hormones are beneficial in a particular situation, long-term exposure to constant stress and constant releasing stress hormone creates a high level of these stress hormones that remains constant in the blood stream. This may lead to high blood pressure (and subsequently heart disease), damage to muscle tissue, inhibition of growth, suppression of the immune system, and damage to mental health and well-being.
The sympathetic branch of the nervous system is activated, also releasing epinephrine and norepinephrine. These, if prolonged, lead to structural changes in the brain. Changes happen to neurons and theirsynapses in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex. These produce impairments in working memory , spatial memory as well as increased aggression.
Symptoms of chronic stress can vary from anxiety, depression, social isolation, headache, abdominal pain,lack of sleep to back pain and difficulty concentrating.
Other symptoms include:hypertension, hemorrhoids,varicose veins. Panic attack or panic disorder and cardiovascular diseases.