General adaptation syndrome
General Adaptation Syndrome

General Adaptation Syndrome: Definition, Mechanism, Alostasis, and 3 Treatment

Stress is a common occurrence. Although you can’t eliminate every stress trigger from your life, you can manage stress and take care of your health. This is important because stress can lead to mental fatigue, irritability, and insomnia.

But even if you know the physical effects of stress, you may not be aware of the various stages of stress, known as general adaptation syndrome (GAS). As you understand the different stages of stress and how the body responds at this stage, it is easier to identify signs of chronic stress within you.

General adaptation syndrome (GAS) is a process that the body experiences when responding to stress, whether physiologically or psychologically. The process consists of three stages (General Adaptation Syndrome Stages): alarm, resistance, and fatigue. GAS was first described by endocrinologist Hans Selye, who believes that over time, stress response causes aging and disease when we are chronically exposed to stress.

General Adaptation Syndrome Definition

Organisms want to maintain homeostasis, or stable, balanced state, also known as a constant internal environment. When an organism is exposed to stress, the body uses its “fight or run” response to compensate.

General adaptation syndrome is a process that the body undergoes to try to return to homeostasis. Through the use of hormones, the body seeks to return to this state as soon as possible, but the system has limits. When we are exposed to chronic stress, problems and problems can occur.

Hans Selye defines stress as “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it”.

Looking at the definition above, stressor can mean a good thing, for example the promotion of a position where we have to conform to being called eustress) or a bad thing, for example the death of a loved one where we have to adjust (called distress); both go through the same physiological process.

General adaptation syndrome mechanism

General adaptation syndrome mechanism

The essence of the phenomenon is described as follows.

No organism can be in alarming condition. The impact of negative factors (agents) can be strong and incompatible with life. In this case, the body will die even at the anxiety stage in the first few hours or days. If it survives, there will come a stage of resistance. It is responsible for the use of balanced reserves.

At the same time, the existence of the organism is maintained, which is not much different from the norm, but in conditions of increased requirements for its ability. However, the energy of adaptation is not limited. In this case, if the factor continues to impact, there will be fatigue.


To adapt, the organism regulates the process of adaptation to stressful situations. So, the goal of alostasis is to achieve a balanced return of homeostasis.

Homeostasis is defined as the stability of the physiological system that sustains life. It is a coordinated physiological process that operates to keep most of the state of the organism constant. This concept was defined in the early 20th century by Walter Cannon, who also emphasized the importance of sympathetic nervous system activation.

Allostatic load can be defined as cumulative wear that occurs on different body systems after a prolonged or unregulated response. As such, this would be the price paid by agents to be forced to adapt to adverse circumstances, both psychosocial and physical.

General Adaptation Syndrome Treatment

Since it is impossible to eliminate all causes of stress, it is important to find a way to cope with stress. Knowing the signs and stages of stress can help you take appropriate steps to manage stress levels and lower your risk of complications.

It is important for your body to repair and recover during the resistance stage. Otherwise, the risk of fatigue increases. If you can’t eliminate stressful events, regular exercise can help you cope and maintain healthy stress levels. Other techniques for stress management include meditation and deep breathing exercises.

Last Updated on September 20, 2021 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team

Sharing is caring!