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Research & Innovation

What Is Stress? An Illustrated Summary

March 4, 2024

Poster for video What Causes Stress?

The brain is where the body processes emotions, including how it responds to stress.

When you detect a potential threat, a part of your brain called the amygdala signals the hypothalamus, which produces hormones that control your body temperature, heart rate, hunger, and mood. The hypothalamus puts forth hormones that stimulate the release of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone because it regulates many physiological actions designed to help people respond to perceived danger.

When this complex system gets dysregulated, chronic stress and anxiety can emerge. Generalized anxiety disorder affects an estimated 3% of the United States population, or more than 9 million people. Treatments for generalized anxiety disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy and medications.

The video above explains more about the brain and how and why stress occurs.