Introduction

During the daily routines of animals, the animal responds to numerous challenges with a variety of responses, including structural and behavioral changes in the brain and body, which enable both behavioral and physiological stability to be maintained. In some incidences, adaptive physiological changes are not sufficient to achieve the animal's requirements and in these situations, defense mechanisms are initiated, which are collectively referred to as stress responses. Stress is a term that is generally associated with negative consequences, but stress is not always bad. Often, organisms seek stress and relish the euphoric feeling and reward associated with stressful experiences (e.g., skiing, copulation). The term stress is full of ambiguities; thus, no clear universal definition has emerged. For this discussion, ''stress'' is defined as a perceived threat to homeostasis, which elicits behavioral and physiological responses. The stress response consists of a complex array of behavioral and physiological adaptive changes that are initiated as a means of restoring homeostasis. Exposure to adverse stimuli results in a well-orchestrated series of responses that can typically cause alterations in autonomic, neuroendocrine, or immune function along with complex changes in behavior. These homeostatic mechanisms enable the organism to maintain behavioral and physiological stability despite fluctuating environmental conditions.

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