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Why do we need to avoid stress?

People with fibromyalgia are often labelled as "type A" people who are generally not renowned for their laidback approach to life; but is there any underlying physiological reason for this? Interestingly, research suggests that there is a disturbance in the stress hormone system. Basically, there are three main hormones involved in the stress response which work in a feedback loop where the last hormone in the chain acts to stop the release of the first hormone.


This makes sure that the stress response is switched off and not left on continuously once stimulated. Researchers have observed that the first hormone in the chain called CRH (corticotrophin releasing hormone) and the second hormone called ACTH (adrenal cortical stimulating hormone) tend to be released at elevated levels in response to stress in individuals with fibromyalgia compared to controls. The third hormone, cortisol, appears to be released in significantly lower amounts in response to stress, whereas its level at rest seems to be higher in individuals with fibromyalgia compared to controls.

These findings could indicate high chronic stress levels meaning that the levels of cortisol stay at a higher level when at rest making you more responsive to stress; in addition diminished amount of cortisol released in response to ACTH means that there is less of the third hormone to shut the stress system down. It is not clear whether these disturbances result from having longstanding fibromyalgia or are part of the underlying cause.


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