The pituitary-adrenocortical system is activated in stressful situations, and the adrenocortical hormones have been implicated by Selye in the diseases of stress. Evidence indicates that the adrenocortical hormones peak during the period of anticipation of stressful events, not during actual confrontation with them. The circadian cortisol rhythm shows peaks before waking, not during active periods of the day, and cortisol does not appear to be required during physical activity. The role of these hormones appears to be to suppress ongoing physiological activity in order to increase vigilance and to get the organism ready to take action before the impact of dangers.
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