but stress does cause ulcers...


Zebras don't get ulcers... when the lion chases a zebra all sorts of "stuff" happens inside of the zebra's body that are healthy and life saving. Basically when the zebra sees the lion it says, "LION! holy shit!!" Then, the adrenal gland pushes out cortisol and adrenaline, the blood is shunted from the zebra's organs to it's muscles, it's body mobilizes glucose from wherever it can, all systems are go and the zebra takes off. If it is lucky enough to escape then it sits under a shady tree, forgets all about the event (like it never happened), and eats some grass to restock its fuel sources. With that insulin rushes from its pancreas, muscles are restored with fuel, and the zebra lives to fight another day. This is an example of healthy stress (as long as you escape the claws/teeth and what have you). Without acute stressors in life we would actually die. The key here is that this is an acute stress not a chronic stress, chronic stress is a completely different matter. 


Chronic stress kills. Humans do get ulcers; unlike zebras, our stress is chronic. We hold on to every stress and magnify it. We feel entitled, take everything personally and obsessively focus on our problems... 24 hour news channels, non stop voyeurism that is created by social media, the loudest society ever known. This adds to our addiction to fear and stress... we are a zebra being chased by a lion, only we are on a never ending tread mill and with that the physiologic responses are much different then our four legged friend. Our stress is chronic, the body says "holy shit!!" the adrenal gland pushes out cortisol and adrenalin, blood is shunted from the intestine, the body mobilizes glucose (breaks down our muscle), we don't fight or flee (instead we sit and stare at our phones or computers) blood sugar increases, insulin then is released leading to stored fat. Our brain does not recognize that we are not being chased and gets the signal to eat to replenish food stores (emotional eating). We crave the wrong foods (simple and unhealthy). Insulin continues to rush from the pancreas (eventually leading to insulin receptor burn out and adult onset diabetes), we store more fat... eventually sick, fat and nearly dead... oh yeah and more chronically stressed.

Ulcers? Why ulcers? Well, chronic stress has been shown to increase inflammation in the body. It also decreases the function of the immune system. And, decreases secretion of a part of the immune system called igA, which protexts the intestinal cells from disease. In turn, it increases permeability of the intestine and has been associated with leaky gut syndrome and ultimately ulcerations on the lining of your stomach.

Solutions to this problem are easier than you think. Fear and gratitude cannot coexist. When the brain is focuses on gratitude there really is no room for petty stress. Do yourself a favor and be more like the zebra. Don't focus on how much you have to do, or how bad it is; instead focus on what you have. Make everyday a Thanksgiving. What do you have to be grateful for?






In the world we live in today it is very easy to be stressed. When I was younger and my mom would tell me she is stressed I wasn't really sure what that meant. Now after being in college and having to make deadlines, get good grades on exams, and even attending class life can get pretty stressful and hectic. Our generation is much different then what the world used to be. We have a lot of things to want and focus on things that need improvement. However, I completely agree with you that we should be looking at our day-to-day life as something to be thankful for instead of dwelling on all the things we have to do. Life is always going to throw stuff at you and you just need to know how to catch. Letting yourself get caught up and stressed constantly cannot be good for you as you said it can cause ulcers. Stress can also cause many other things such a weight gain or losing too much weight for that matter. It can also cause anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders etc. Here's a link I found that shows what stress can do to our bodies.

Your mentioning of zebras not getting ulcers triggered my curiosity about the stress response in other animals. I wasn't surprised to find out that monkeys are susceptible to stressors and respond to ongoing stress. Brady's Executive Monkey Study was conducted in 1958. He administered electric shock to monkeys at varying intervals over an extended period of time. There were two groups of monkeys in the study, those who could press a lever to delay the shocks and those who could not. The monkeys who had the ability to delay the shocks are the ones who died of gastric issues such as ulcers. The monkeys showed an increased stress response when they had the power to control their less than ideal circumstances because the shocks alone weren't that distressing. Here's a link to the study: http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1960-04726-001
Could it be due to humanity's constant need for control that we are a species under extreme stress?

I read this article just in time for studying for exams and finals. It is true that stress can kill you, and being in college, juggling a job and long distance relationship have all taken a toll for a while. It's important to realize your situation is not the worst, (could be worse, like the zebra's), and take a deep breath. Anything is possible with proper time management and enough effort. I read a quotation one time that completely changed my way of thinking on stress. Here it is: "A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?" Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything." It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!"

Don't you think it's interesting that Andrew did a class on why stress DOESN'T cause ulcers? I was so shocked when he did that because based on my own research, I don't see how anyone could believe it isn't at least a largely contributing factor. I mean, it's known that stress breaks down the immune system, and then one thing leads to another, and boom: ulcer. Chronic stress definitely increases your risks! I don't know, maybe I'm missing something, but it makes sense to me.

This article notes that physical and emotional stress are associated with the development of stomach ulcers.

Do you guys think I'm wrong in saying stress does cause ulcers? What exactly are the differences between "causing" an ulcer, and largely increasing your risk of getting an ulcer?

WOW the monkey study reinforces a lot of what I'm trying to convey in my post. THANK YOU for sharing! I could potentially see that our incessant need to "be in control" may have an effect on stress levels, but I'm not completely convinced.

This made me wonder about other specific reasons we are so chronically stressed. I touched on it in my blog, but here are some other things I found: job insecurity, unpaid bills, inadequate childcare, underperforming schools, and dangerous or toxic living conditions, crowded homes, even noisy streets. All of these "stressors" can contribute to chronic stress. I wonder if economic class has an effect on who suffers from chronic stress? I mean, those specific stressors seem like they would have a more profound effect on a lower socioeconomic class. Does power breed more manageable circumstances, and in turn make people feel more in control and less stressed? That could potentially make people like CEOs and upperclass less susceptible to chronic stress. Hm, food for thought.

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