To understand chronic stress, we have to start with how we’re wired to deal with occasional stress: Enter the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis.
The HPA axis is one of the primary ways that the brain adjusts and adapts to its outside environment – and to the corresponding challenges it presents. This intricate system is used by our brain to prepare our body to respond to danger, a.k.a. stressors. Activation of the HPA axis is an example of a neuroendocrine response, where the nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands to release hormones that then influence our body’s function.