Allostatic load refers to the accumulating adverse effects of stress, in conjunction with pre-existing risks, on biological stress regulatory systems.

Allostatic load refers to the cumulative wear and tear on the body as a result of chronic stress. It is a concept in the field of psychobiology that explains how the body responds to chronic stress over time.

When a person experiences stress, their body goes through a series of physiological changes that help them respond to the stressor. These changes include the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and changes in the immune system. These changes are meant to be temporary and help the body cope with the stressor. However, when stress becomes chronic, these physiological changes can accumulate and cause damage to the body over time.

Examples of factors that can contribute to allostatic load include ongoing financial difficulties, long-term unemployment, exposure to violence or trauma, social isolation, and chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or depression. These stressors can result in changes in the body's stress response systems, which can lead to chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and changes in hormonal regulation.

Symptoms of high allostatic load may include fatigue, anxiety, depression, impaired cognitive function, and chronic pain. Treatment for high allostatic load may involve stress management techniques, such as mindfulness meditation or cognitive-behavioral therapy, as well as lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and good sleep hygiene.