2021 AMI Online Salon

Vicious Cycle of Stress

Project Details

  • Entrant Name:  Carolina Hrejsa
  • Client: Scientific American
  • Copyright: Marcelo Oliver, 2021
  • Medium/software used: Adobe Photoshop/Adobe Illustrator
  • Final presentation format: Print
  • Primary Audience: Educated General public

Project Description

A special edition publication, THE SCIENCE OF STRESS, was reprinting an article about how anxiety and depression feeds the stress cycle. The inspiration behind the main figure was from the storytelling in the article, a girl is triggered by hearing a voice that is similar to the voice of someone who assaulted her. The amygdala takes this sensory information and bypasses the cortex, and begins the evolutionary fight-or-flight response through the sympathetic nervous system; leading to heart racing, shallow breathing, and tense muscles. The secretion of stress hormones, epinephrine and glucocorticoids cause the locus coeruleus (LC) to release norepinephrine, stimulating the amygdala further. The cycle is intensified and continues. The solid, colored arrows show the continuous loop of hormones responsible for repeated stress. The dotted arrows (1,2,3) add to the loop when the brain consciously or presconsciously analyzes the incoming stress before alerting the amygdala.