What exactly is stress?

Stress refers to any event that triggers your brain’s stress reaction, releasing stress steroid hormones and activating neurochemicals in your brain. These stress steroids and activating neurochemicals damage and kill brain cells and can throw you into an episode of depression. There is good evidence that the stress response also contributes to heart disease, lung disease, and other problems that can cause us to die too soon.

Stress is additive, meaning that several small stressors can add up to a big one. Here are examples of the most common stressful events.

• Death of a child or marriage partner
• Breakup of a marriage or a close relationship
• Sickness or death of any loved one
• Alcohol problems or drug addiction
• Serious illness or injury
• Severe financial problems
• Arguments and strife at home or work
• Demotion or loss of job
• Son or daughter leaving home
• Spiritual and religious conflict
• Disappointments and failure to achieve life goals
• Overwork
• Moving