Anticipatory stress response: a significant commonality in stress, relaxation, pleasure and love responses
George B. Stefano, Judith M. Stefano, Tobias Esch
Med Sci Monit 2008; 14(2): RA17-21
Available online: 2008-01-29
With this work we examine common pathways and autoregulatory similarities between different physiological phenomena, particularly with regard to stress, relaxation and love responses, against the background of recent research findings. Various stress reducing practices that incorporate an initial and short-lived stress pathway activation, e.g., love, relaxation and placebo responses, exhibit anticipatory stress response (ASR) physiology. The initial activation of this stress component of the total response, i.e., love, relaxation, and mental or physical stress responses, is significant and, as we speculate, may represent a common protective mechanism, since activation (i.e., stress response) is started first and, if the situation appears to be 'safe', may be followed by relaxation, if appropriate. Also, the emergence of love became evolutionarily important in organisms exhibiting cognition, because it deployed the validation for emotionality-controlling logical behavior. Therefore, love and relaxation responses may be considered as intrinsic health promoting physiological capabilities.
Keywords: Relaxation - psychology, Pleasure-Pain Principle, Love, Nitric Oxide - physiology, Stress, Physiological - psychology, Humans, Animals