General adaptation syndrome (GAS): stages and triggers


They all experienced stress, both negative and positive. Stress has a physical and mental impact on the body.

General adaptation syndrome (GAS) is a term that describes the physiological changes that the body automatically goes through when it responds to stress. GAS, first developed by Hans Selye in 1936, is considered a pioneer in modern biological stress formulation.

GAS has three stages: anxiety, stamina, and exhaustion. The more stages your body goes through, the greater the risk of long-term negative effects. Prolonged stress can affect your physical and mental health.

Understanding GAS, including how it starts, can help you lower your stress levels.

José Luis Peláez Inc. / Fake images


Hans Selye's research in the 1950s identified three stages of GAS: anxiety reaction, resistance stage, and exhaustion stage.


The anxiety stage is the body's initial response to stress. This stage is also called the fight or flight response . In this stage, the sympathetic nervous system is activated by a sudden release of hormones.

The sympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system that regulates the functions of your heart, stomach, bladder, and intestines, as well as your muscles. You don't know that this system works because it reacts automatically to stimuli.

When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, it stimulates the adrenal glands. The glands, in turn, trigger the release of certain hormones , including adrenaline and norepinephrine.

The release of the hormone causes physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and respiration and increased blood pressure.

Physical signs of being in the anxiety response stage include:

  • Late students
  • Incrise of cardiac frecuency
  • Fast breathing
  • Tremble
  • Pale or flushed skin
  • Heightened feelings

According to Selye, most symptoms of the anxiety stage disappear or are reversed in the next stage (resistance) and then reappear in the last stage of exhaustion.


The endurance stage is when your body tries to rebuild itself from the initial shock of stress. If the stressful situation is no longer present and you can overcome the stress, your heart and blood pressure will begin to return to pre-stress levels at this stage.

However, if the stressful situation continues for a long time, or if you are not dealing with stress, your body will never receive a clear signal to return to normal functioning. This means that you will continue to release stress hormones and your blood pressure will remain high.

Prolonged levels of high stress can cause disturbances in the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. You may have symptoms such as:

  • Intestinal problems
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Sadness
  • Disappointment
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration

Prolonged and unresolved stress leads to the third stage (burnout).


Prolonged or chronic stress leads to the final stage of burnout. Persistent, unrelieved stressors drain your physical, emotional, and mental resources to the point where your body can no longer handle stress.

Signs that you're out of stock include:

  • Fatigue
  • Consume
  • Decreased resistance to stress.

The physical effects of prolonged stress can weaken your immune system and increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.


Selye developed GAS after studying how the human body responds to physical stressors, such as exposure to cold temperatures or physical exertion.

It is now clear that many situations, including those that cause psychological rather than physical stress, can cause GAS.

Examples of stressors that can cause GAS include:

  • Daily stress (eg, pressure at school, work, or at home related to family)
  • A sudden change in your life (such as job loss, divorce, or illness)
  • Traumatic experiences (eg, abuse, serious accident, and war)

Positive stress

GAS is not only triggered by distressing stressors; It can also be triggered by situations in which the stressor is viewed as positive or pleasant (known as eustress ).

For example, some people perceive the stress of the next exam as positive, as it helps them stay motivated. Others may like the fear they experience when they watch a horror movie.

We all have different stressors. What appears to be a threat to one person may be perceived as a positive challenge to another.

GAS and medical conditions

GAS is not a disease that can be diagnosed; Rather, it is a process that your body automatically goes through when stressed.

However, if you are experiencing chronic stress that negatively affects your life, it is very important that you seek help. Mental health conditions that have symptoms associated with stress for a long time include:


Stress mitigation techniques can help you deal with GAS. Examples to consider include:


General Adjustment Syndrome (SGA) describes the process your body goes through when it is exposed to any type of stress, positive or negative. It has three stages: anxiety, resistance, and exhaustion.

Failure to cope with the stress caused by GAS can lead to physical and mental health problems.

Get the word of drug information

The physical changes your body goes through in response to stress are not harmful in and of themselves. However, when stress continues for a long time and your body enters a stage of exhaustion, it can cause long-term problems.

Understanding what stressors affect you and learning strategies for coping with stress can help you avoid the effects of chronic stress. If you find it difficult to cope with stress, it is important to seek support from your doctor or mental health professional.

Frequently asked questions

What is general adjustment syndrome?

General adaptation syndrome (GAS) is a model of physical changes that the body undergoes after stress. This is not a medical diagnosis; Rather, it is the process the body goes through in response to stress.

What are the three stages of general adjustment syndrome?

There are three stages of GAS: anxiety, stamina, and exhaustion.

Who Discovered Common Adjustment Syndrome?

Hans Selye developed GAZ in 1936. He is considered a pioneer in the modern biological formulation of stress.

What Causes General Adjustment Syndrome?

Any stressor, both unpleasant and beneficial, can lead to a general adjustment syndrome.

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