Stress and the Neuroendocrine System: Implications for Animal Well-Being
This article presents an overview of stress and its impacts on the neuroendocrine system as well as on animal well-being. Anything that poses a challenge or threat to well-being is stress. It is a state of threathened homeostasis. An agent or stimulus that causes stress is a stressor. A stressor is a powerful activator of the neuroendocrine system, provided it is of sufficient intensity and/or duration. The neuroendocrine system is one of the most responsive physiological systems to stressors. This responsiveness occur since the neuroendocrine system is a key signaler and modulator of many of the other physiological systems attempting to accommodate stressors and re-establish homeostasis. A persistent threat to homeostasis may lead to prolonged hyperactivity of the neuroendocrine system which impairs rather than contribute to well-being. Long-term stress results in adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalances or deficiencies and hormone imbalance. When the endocrine system is not functioning properly, an animal can not cope with stress effectively. This results in a vicious cycle where the weakened endocrine system creates more stress and the higher levels of stress continuously weaken the endocrine system the more. The solution is to reduce as much as possible and find ways of coping and managing the stress that cannot be removed.
Stress, Neuroendocrine System, Hormones, Adrenal Gland
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