How long does adrenaline last in a fight

The release of adrenaline is followed by cortisol, which keeps us alert

A chain of reactions is triggered in the brain, says Hüther. The nervous system signals the adrenal medulla to release adrenaline, blood pressure, pulse, skin resistance and muscle activity increase, and bowel activity is inhibited. The body is on alert. Walter Cannon, the second great pioneer of stress research alongside Selye, described these reactions in 1915 with “fight or flight” - it is a subjective assessment of danger. However, women seem to react less violently than men and are apparently more inclined to cope with the formation of social networks, as recent studies by the American psychologist Shelley Taylor suggest. "Tend and befriend", instead of "fight or flight", probably for evolutionary reasons: It is more difficult to fight and escape with offspring.

About ten minutes after the adrenaline is released, it is followed by cortisol, which is supposed to protect the body from the unfavorable consequences of excessive activation by adrenaline and at the same time ensure increased, longer-lasting vigilance at a lower level. Because adrenaline is difficult to measure, the salivary cortisol concentration is often used to measure stress levels.

First of all, stress means nothing more than that the body is particularly ready to perform as a result of perceived stress - a mobilization that is useful not only when there is a threat to physical integrity. “Without stress, we wouldn't develop at all,” says Gerald Hüther. Stress strengthens, stress steers. An immune system that is always being spared does not know how to fend off attacks. Those who do not suffer setbacks or master crises cannot grow beyond themselves and develop confidence in their own abilities. In short: if you don't experience stress, you can't take anything.

Helen Heinemann, founder of the private "Institute for Burnout Prevention" in Hamburg, can also gain a lot from stress: "I'm super awake, super-focused and can drop everything that is unimportant," she says. first. It becomes difficult if she cannot relieve the tension that has built up in a timely manner, says the pedagogue with psychotherapeutic training. Running away, screaming, saving yourself up a tree: none of this works in the office. Although we physically experience the same thing as our ancestors in the African savannah, our coping strategies inevitably have to be different - well-measured breaks, for example.

On the initiative of the Techniker Krankenkasse, Heinemann has been offering nationwide seminars since 2006, which are intended to prevent a “profound emotional state of exhaustion”. The author of the book “Why Burnout Doesn't Come From Your Job” trained more than 1,100 participants, mainly academics who pursue their dream job but are out of balance. “In the adrenaline rush, you just don't notice that you have to take breaks,” says Heinemann, time off in the working day and in working life. The problem is not so much the lamented concentration of work, but rather how to deal with it: "It's the people themselves who don't say stop."

In the 2012 Stress Report, for example, more than a quarter of those surveyed said they skipped breaks more often, even though they have been shown to increase performance. For Heinemann, this is also a problem of the prevailing work culture. For Germans, breaks and performance do not go well together. In her seminars, the therapist often makes use of the creation story: "And God saw that it was good," it says again and again. This is self-praise, a pause after the work is done - a role model, even for non-Christians.

It is the dose that makes the poison, even under stress; the decisive factors are duration and intensity. For example, a certain amount of physical excitement has a positive effect on memory performance. A high stress level, on the other hand, leads to the opposite - even if some studies suggest that stimuli that are mentally linked to the danger are better retained. Extreme stressful situations can even lead to memory loss and psychogenic amnesia. And permanent stress, the researchers agree, has a damaging effect on the entire organism.

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