“Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous” (Medline Plus).

Acute, stemming from the Latin word acus and acuere, meaning needle and sharpen, is of short duration but still likely considered to be of intense nature.

The word chronic stems from the Greek word khronos, meaning time and is defined as that which lasts for a long time or is consistently recurring.

So very simply, acute stress is short and chronic stress is long, but keep in mind the context of the words as you continue reading.

Acute stress can be anything from getting into a car accident, to public speaking, to relationship breakups, to family deaths. The incident is short but by no means sweet. Chronic stress, as already mentioned, is long, recurring and exhausting. Like a telemarketer always calling during dinner. However, it is this problem of recurrence where problems really start to mount up and become actually dangerous.

“The INTERHEART case–control study showed that significant long-term stress over the course of 12 months more than doubled the risk of acute MI, even after adjusting for conventional risk factors such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and smoking (146).”

“Furthermore, the effects of long-term stress may persist long after the cessation of the chronic stressors.”

Stefan O. Reber – Frontiers in Psychiatry
 -Acute MI is an acute myocardial infarction, also meaning heart attack-

Living with chronic stress is something no one should endure. The physiological and psychological effects are far too cruel. A compound of stress turned into compounding suffering. So what is there to do?

Fortunately, acute stress isn’t all that bad for you. It actually is quite beneficial (if not extremely severe). If you’ve heard of the good stress versus bad stress debate, this is the same as acute (mild) stress versus chronic stress.

“Acute and chronic psychological stress affects sensitivity to myocardial ischemic injury in opposite directions; acute psychological stress decreases, whereas chronic psychological stress increases sensitivity to myocardial ischemic injury (45117). It is possible that protective mechanisms exist in response to an optimal level of acute stress, but these mechanisms are eventually overcome by more intense levels of stress (4). “

Stefan O. Reber – Frontiers in Psychiatry

This study on mice has shown that acute stress decreases our sensitivity to myocardial ischemic injury, which is when blood flow through major arteries is decreased (caused by Coronary Artery Disease).

If we experience more forms of acute stress and create a healthier relationship with it, we can dramatically affect our life, for the better.

Exercise is one form of dealing with stress, as is discussed in a previous post, The Brian “Pill”, Exercise. But that may not be enough to get the wheels in motion. If we begin to physically put ourselves in forms of mild acute stress, we can begin to grow our tolerance for stress, lower our susceptibility for chronic stress and start enjoying the struggles and triumphs of life. We can no longer keep telling ourselves lies that we get to live any easy, comfort filled life. No one gets to live a life of absolute comfort, no one.

Therefore, if you are chronically stressed because you are not receiving the rewards for your effort, or your environment is just plain shitty, then start seeking mild acute stress. At first this may be hard or downright terrifying, but like all fear, it is fictitious. Overcoming the fear and receiving the reward for overcoming it, will be worth the short duration of stress or discomfort. The beautiful part is that the reward will not be a medal or trophy, but that of hope and joy.

In the end, hope and joy, are all we really need.


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