Approach to stress endocrine response: somatization in the context of gastroenterological symptoms: a systematic review
Background: Stress can be defined as an acute threat to the homeostasis of an organism, and in order to manage stress, and maintain stability, the allostatic systems activate an adaptive response. Stress has been shown to have both short - and long-term effects on the function of the gastrointestinal tract, but long-term exposure to stress is more likely to cause endocrine disorders.Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the endocrine response to stress, and evaluate the relationship between somatization and gastrointestinal symptoms.Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted on several academic databases, which included, Pubmed, EBSCO and Science Direct. The search was performed using the keywords, ???endocrine response to stress???, ???somatization??? and ???gastrointestinal symptoms???. Results: The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is essential in controlling physiological stress responses. Dysfunction is related to several mental disorders, including anxiety and depression, or somatization. Symptoms associated with genetic, or other traumatic experiences of individuals under stress, can lead to a maladaptive response to stress. These stressful life events were found to be associated with digestive system-related chronic diseases. Gastrointestinal disorders significantly affect millions of people worldwide. Conclusion: This study examined how the endocrine system responds to stress, and the effect this has in causing stress-related gastrointestinal distresses. Our findings indicate that stress-related psychological disorders are strongly associated with the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms.Keywords: Stress, endocrine response, somatization, gastrointestinal symptoms.