Going by the assumption that stress eventually triggers a flight/fight response, and the subsequent realization that flight/fight puts the body in a system of readiness to use it's available resources (mental, physical).

Does it make sense to think that stress physically ages a person? I am specifically referring to characteristics identified with aging such as bleached hair, telomere shortening, wrinkles around the eyes, etc.


1 Answer 1


The fight/flight situation, through activation of the sympathetic part of the autonomous nerve system, leads to secretion of catechol amines, i.e. adrenaline and noradrenaline. The effects of these hormones, if excreted continously or without real resting time, are thought to be bad for your health. If you recall the possible effects of those two substances (which are both similar to amphetamine, by the way), and look at what big studies have found about the impact of high blood pressure then you know the most important negative effect of stress, IMHO.


  • $\begingroup$ Not sure that I am entirely convinced by this. Some studies have shown (looking for refs...) that stress can be an important stimulant of the immune system - i.e. hormesis. $\endgroup$
    – Poshpaws
    Jul 20, 2012 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ This is no contradiction. The positive effects might be greater than the negative. Surely you cannot endure stress 24-7. So there must be a limit. $\endgroup$
    – R Stephan
    Jul 20, 2012 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't say there was a contradiction, but as you have just said it a clearly more complicated than saying stress=bad. $\endgroup$
    – Poshpaws
    Jul 20, 2012 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I have differentiated my answer $\endgroup$
    – R Stephan
    Jul 20, 2012 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Poshpaws Long during stress actually triggers auto-immune diseases. $\endgroup$
    – Probably
    Jan 12, 2017 at 9:25

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