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Stress: Causes and Results


Research proves that destructive stress became the biggest health risk of the modern world, applying to man and animal.   

 

It is very important to be aware about the actual state of stress, in order to evaluate its impact in certain stressful situations 



Stress - what is it?    translation follows

Above all one can differentiate between three main groups of stressors for the horse: physical - organic - mental.
The groups can 'interact', one leads to the other or several groups are involved; the original stressor is often not to find. 

Samples for each group: 

physical: exercise & deprivation of, weather, hunger
organic: pain, disorders, diseases, starvation
mental: all environmental stressors: change of location, weather, boredom, human 

Stress is first of all initiated by a strong demand on physical and psychological exertion/demand and it's effects/impact. As long as the body can handle stressful situations without suffering health impairment, stress is mostly unproblematic. Some stress researchers title negative stress as Dis-Stress. Not overstraining stress they call Eu-Stress. Destructive Stress is an imbalance between demands and the personal ability and resources (i.e. achievement potential, time, demands), and the desire to accomplish. Stress can result due to  underutilization/underchallenge, which lead to inadequate and self destroying behaviors. By destructive stress the balance between natural adaption process towards the stressor is disturbed. The stress  balance become negative. The body doesn't get out of his (constant) alarm "alarm condition". The stressed being becomes more afraid and  and at the same time more aggressive, which is a mixture with health risks.  
Stressors are constantly around, the question is how often and how they are being perceived. That is not necessarily depending on the individual potential and ability to deal with the demands, in other words, it is not depending on if a human or animal can handle it for a long period of time, BUT if human/animal can do something to change the stressful situation and it's triggering condition. Is this possibility blocked or not possible, or it doesn't go over into active stress management, then the disaccord between demand and coping is too high; fear, inner tension, helplessness etc are developing. If these situations are not being realized, they can trigger the aggression towards other beings to simply "let steam off" or lead to self-destruction.  

Potential Stressors for Human and Animal 

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Human
Animal
  • noise
  • over stimulation through TV, radio, video games
  • traffic jams
  • waiting periods
  • bad weather
  • cold
  • heat
  • pain
  • boredom
  • trouble with neighbors
  • rudeness 
  • critic
  • worries
  • liabilities
  • grief
  • work place problems
  • excessive work or family related loads
  • high demands
  • unfulfilled desires
  • expectations
  • low ability to work/live under pressure
  • perfectionisms
  • fear
  • guilt
  • nutritional condition
  • hunger
  • isolation
  • imagining a threat or remembering a dangerous event
  • illness
  • transport
  • change of feed
  • change of barn
  • bringing together animals of different regional provenance 
  • noise/high frequency sounds
  • excessive work load 
  • hierarchy
  • illness
  • the human
  • pain
  • boredom
  • cold
  • heat
  • humidity
  • fear
  • nutritional condition
  • pregnancy
  • immunization
  • crowding
  • hunger
  • isolation
  • remembering a dangerous event
  • danger
  • confinement

 

 

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Reactions to Stress?    


At stress conditions the consciousness goes back to proven, routine action strategies. Something new is related to experiences and known. Creative solutions usually are not developed. 
Complexity goes down to simple yes/no and black/ white decisions. A self-protection, a kind of service according to regulation in the "work routine", sets in, unconsciously, to be able to handle all the requirements.

The body reacts to stress situations after well-approved schemes, like millions of years ago when our ancestors were still hunters; and the animals, as mostly still today, still inhibited their original instincts. Flight, fight, and "paying-dead" is the basic design of these instincts. 
The organism mobilizes all reserves at short notice. Stress hormones are being released.
They engage energy reserves like sugar and fat, increase the blood pressure and the pulse frequency, accelerate the breathing. The muscles get prepared for performance. Strain is the consequence which is a main indicator of stress.
Other functions are driven down like the immune defense, the digestion and sexual functions.
This is accompanied by a reduction of the endogenous regenerative functions.
At work or in school, for the bird in the cage, for the horse in the stall, these triggered physical reactions don't lead to adequate physical activities. Under chronic stress the organism/body tries to adapt with increasingly more new mobilization processes, which are, however, of no use for him in forced surroundings like office, stable and cage.

"At some point, if the underlying conflict is not resolved, the body may allow the condition to progress to the next level the 'Stage of Disease'. At this point the symptoms and sign become more defined, a specific organ or organ system becomes involved, laboratory tests become abnormal. The physician now knows where he and the patient stand. For the first time we are in the realm of standard medicine. The stomach pain is now an ulcer. The chest pain is now angina. The cold turns into pneumonia." 

 

vgl. Abb. Müller-Limmroth 1981             top

Negative Stress - Relating to Human and Animal

Cognitive Level
Emotional Level
Vegetative-hormonal Level
  • Blackout
  • concentration problems
  • day dreaming
  • "thinking" bloackades
  • twirling of thoughts
  • negative thinking
  • memory problems
  • rigidity
  • denial of/out of touch with reality
  • performance failure
  • nightmares
  • perceptual deferrals
  • anger
  • insecurity
  • discontentedness
  • dissatisfaction
  • mood changes
  • nervousness
  • agitated
  • fear
  • scariness
  • panic
  • aggression
  • aggression readiness
  • depressed
  • apathy
  • hypochondria
  • dry mouth
  • closed throat
  • weak on the stomach/nauseated
  • tears
  • soft knees 
  • blood vessels swell instantly
  • chest pain/pressure
  • cardiovascular complaints
  • heart racing
  • high (labile) blood pressure
  • elevation heart attack risk
  • digestive system ulcer due to high acid production of stomach
  • dyspepsia
  • gastritis
  • sleep rhythm probelms
  • chronic tiredness
  • low immune system
  • changes of  des cholesterol levels
  • skin changes
  • high perspiration 
  • dizzy spells
  • difficulties of breathing
  • migraines
Muscular Level Human
Muscular Level  Horse  
  • frozen mimic
  • finger drumming
  • teeth grinding
  • foot tapping
  • tension headaches
  • back-, headaches
  • fist cramping
  • stuttering
  • facial grimace
  • nervous gesture
  • general tension 
  • quick tiring 
  • quick cramping
  • muscle shivering, ticks
  • inability to relax

 

  • pawing
  • knocking
  • itchiness
  • rubbing
  • wind sucking
  • weaving
  • cribbing
  • tension
  • lameness
  • lip curling
  • biting
  • kicking
  • nervous tail wiping
  • quick tiring 
  • quick cramping
  • muscle shivering, ticks
  • inability to relax
 

Typical Stress Disorders                                                                                                                 

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Human

Animal

  • cardiac and circulatory troubles

  • vegetative dystonia

  • acid stomach

  • digestive problems

  • concentration problems

  • headaches

  • migraines

  • susceptibility to illness

  • tiredness/worn out

  • exhaustion

  • nervousness

  • sleep problems

  • heart attack

  • digestive diseases

  • psychological diseases

  • depression

  • respiratory illness

  • addiction

  • chronic immune debility

  • cardiac and circulatory troubles

  • digestive tract diseases

  • acid stomach

  • colic

  • psychological diseases

  • depression

  • respiratory illness

  • susceptibility to illness

  • tiredness

  • exhaustion

  • nervousness

  • chronic immune debility

 

Chronic Stress

"Since the underlying conflict is not resolved, the condition cannot be cured. It comes and goes, remissions and exacerbations or it continues to progress until it finally reaches the next stage, Chronic Disease. At this point finding the cause will no longer reverse the process as it did earlier. It can, however, significantly reduce the consequences and it can stop the process from moving toward death.
Once the stress-illness process reaches the earliest stages of chronic disease the process is well on its way to loss of reversibility. This loss of reversibility means that it can no longer be cured by simply solving the original problem. Now the disease process takes on a life of its own entirely separate from its cause." 

Chronic stress is leading to tiredness and exhaustion, known under the term 'burnout-syndrome'. Wrong environmental structures  are a medium for chronicle stress, too. The level of exhaustion is rising rapidly under prolonged stress.
This chronic stress can lead to the next level, the so called 'posttraumatic stress syndrome'. Physical and emotional stress symptoms don't wear off right away. The organism needs long periods, to find its balance. After very high stress phases it can take months, in the worst it won't go down anymore. In some cases it leads to death. For human it is advised to seek psychiatrically help quickly. For animals, suffering from 'posttraumatic stress syndrome', help is often too late and not possible.

You see, the factor STRESS has an immense impact like neuropathic pain onto the body. What does it do to the immune system? Let's go to the next page

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References:
Depression & Schmerz, Walter E. Müller, Stephan Volk, 2003 Lingua Med;
Stress-Management. Das WAAGE-Programm, Stollreiter u.a.,  Beltz Verlag 2000;
Stress Echocardiography, Eugenio Picano, 2003 Springer

 

 

 

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