chronic stress response

Chronic Stress Response: Everything You Need To Know

Do you live in Ottawa? Do you want to find out more about the chronic stress response?

If so, you are in the right place.

Today, I will write about the chronic stress response and its effect on chronic health conditions.

In This Article

Let’s begin by looking at what the chronic stress response is.

What Is The Chronic Stress Response?

A Chronic Stress Response is a situation that occurs when our body’s normal response to a stressor remains stuck because of unresolved current stress or past emotional or physical trauma.

Let’s discuss what the body’s normal response to stress looks like.

What Is Our Body’s Normal Response To Stress?

Your body’s response to stress begins in your brain, specifically your Amygdala, which is part of your Limbic system.

The role of the Amygdala is to define whether something is a threat.

Suppose it labels the thing as a threat. In that case, the Amygdala activates your sympathetic nervous system, which tells your adrenal glands to release your stress hormones, namely cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine.

The release of these hormones has been nicknamed the “CAN response.”

These hormones help you deal with stress by increasing your concentration and strength and activating your immune system.

This response would have been very appropriate if we encountered a wild animal in our long and distant past.

A similar present-day example might be if we mislaid our wallet.

Once our ancestors had outrun the wild animal or we had found our wallet, the “C-A-N response” would stop, and the Parasympathetic part of our Autonomic body’s systems would kick in, taking us into a feeling of safety and okayness.

In our modern world, stress can remain unsolved or continuous, such as doing a job or a relationship you hate.

In such cases, the “C-A-N response” remains permanent, and your body is now in a Chronic Stress Response.

Let’s now look at what happens in the body during the initial stages of a Chronic Stress Response.

The Initial Stages Of A Chronic Stress Response

During the initial stages of the chronic stress response, the body begins to acclimate to the high-stress level, known as the Adaption stage.

During this Adaption stage, the body’s cells absorb the high level of stress hormones into the cells from the bloodstream.

The cells are hiding the hormones, so you feel less stressed

The body eventually adapts to and learns to live with a higher stress level.

However, if the adaption stage continues for too long, it can lead to the exhaustion phase.

The Exhaustion Stage

Although we are unaware we are stuck in a chronic stress response at the Exhaustion stage, our immune functioning becomes dysregulated, and many processes in the body become compromised.

In the exhaustion stage, the body directs more energy and resources to deal with the stress and keep you “safe” rather than regulating your immune system, digestion/microbiome, and endocrine system.

The exhaustion stage can also present with the biochemistry of low C-A-N hormones because of either:

  1. You have developed excessive cellular receptors for C-A-N hormones, which result in lower levels of hormones in the blood.
  2. You cannot continue to produce excessive C-A-N hormones.

The common signs and symptoms of the exhaustion phase include:

  • Fatigue
  • Burnout
  • Overwhelm
  • Freeze response
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased stress tolerance

The physical effects of this stage also weaken your immune system and put you at risk of stress-related illnesses, such as:

    • Lyme Disease
    • Chronic Fatigue
    • Long Haul COVID
    • Parasite Infections
    • Diabetes
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Psoriasis
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Mould Toxicity
    • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
    • Allergies
    • EMF Sensitivities
    • POTS
    • Chronic Pain/Fibromyalgia
    • Digestive issues such as IBS.

Now It’s Over To You

Do you suffer from any conditions associated with a chronic stress response?

Are you unaware that your body might be stressed?

Leave me a comment below.

Do You Need Help?

If you need help, I suggest you book a free functional medicine discovery session with me to determine whether my functional medicine approach fits your child’s needs.


The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply this information without first speaking with your doctor.

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