The Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal (HPA) axis describes a complex set of positive and negative feedback signals in responding to acute stressful encounters or chronic chemical, physical, and emotional stressors. This is a complex network of the body's response to stress.
Circulating ACTH, released by the pituitary gland in the blood, induces the adrenal gland to synthesize and release corticosteroids, such as cortisol and corticosterone, our major stress hormone. These circulating corticosteroids modulate the vast array of physiological processes influenced by the HPA axis and are also responsible for initiating a negative feedback loop on the HPA axis via activation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) in the brain to shut down corticosteroid production. In an acute situation, such as running from a Saber-tooth tiger, the body's response is governed by the immediate signaling of this network to put the body into a "Fight or Flight mode, the sympathetic part of the nervous system.
This Mind Map details the body's response to chemical, physical and emotional stressors, as well as acute stressors. However, when this axis is chronically elevated, dysregulation of many biochemical, physiological, and pathophysiological processes, results in altered biochemistry which has a profound effect on our health. This Mind Map details the detriments of a chronic state of the fight or flight sympathetic-dominant nervous system and the effects it has on hormones, neurotransmitters, the immune system, the organs and glands, and many more systems in the body.
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