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Lecture 5

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Carleton University
PSYC 2301
Tarry Ahuja

Stress and Coping Overview - Describe and define stress - Models and theories of stress - Appraisal of stress - What is coping? - Factors influencing coping - Coping strategies What is stress? - Stress is defined as: • Anegative emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological, cognitive, and behavioral changes that are directed either toward altering the stressful event or accommodating to its effects • Stress is initiated or aggravated by exposure to a stressor What is a stressor? - Stressors are defined as: • An event, situation, experience or trigger that causes stress - Stressors can include: • Noise • Overcrowding, large population • Bad relationships • Work-related activities • Environmental factors Person-environment fit - Perception of stress is determined by an individual’s appraisal of resources • Stressful or not? Can I deal with it, or not? - This is termed person-environment fit - Assessment of personal resources dictates degree of stress • Adequate resources- low stress, challenge • Inadequate resources- stressed out Theories and models for stress - Several theories and models exist including: • Fight-or-flight (stay, fight, and cope, or run away?) • General adaptation syndrome • Tend-and-befriend General adaptation syndrome - Selye exposed rats to various stressors - Found thatALL stressors produced the same physiological response (sweating, increased HR, increased BP) - Stressors led to: • Enlarged adrenal cortex • Shrinking of thymus and lymph glands • Ulceration of the stomach and duodenum - Chronic stress can lead to wear and tear of system (body not designed for chronic stress) - The GAS consists of 3 phases: • Alarm- mobilize to meet the threat (EX: exam coming up) • Resistance- cope through confrontation (EX: dealing with the exam and doing w/e you can to resist that stress) • Exhaustion- deplete physical resources - GAS model has several limitations: • Limited role to psychological factors • Responses to stressors are uniform (not true) • Stress is only evident in the presence of a stressor (also not true) - Tend-and-befriend model introduces social aspect to stress: • More prevalent in females (women go to someone for help much more than men do) • Seeking social contact during stress (ex: herding) • Increased levels of oxytocin (also released during labor) Psychological appraisal of stress - Degree of stress is determined by psychological appraisal - Primary appraisal determines the meaning: • Positive • Negative • Neutral • Harm vs. threat vs. challenge • Ex: you can hear a biker behind you coming fast, so you move out of the way as quick as possible - Secondary appraisal determines coping abilities and resources available Physiology of stress - Stress causes short and long-term changes to health - 2 physiological systems affected by stress include: • Sympathetic-adrenomedullary (SAM) system • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis SAM system - Harmful events are labelled by the cerebral cortex - Info is transmitted to the hypothalamus - Initiates earliest response to stress • Sympathetic nervous system arousal (fight-or-flight response) - Stimulates the medulla of the adrenal glands - Secretion of epinephrine, norepinephrine - Leads to sympathetic arousal: bp, hr, sweating HPAaxis - Activation of the hypothalamus releases corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) - Stimulates pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) - Stimulates adrenal cortex to release cortisol - Cortisol: • Conserve stores of carbs, reduces inflammation • Inhibits release of CRF • Bring body back to steady-state - Chronic activation of HPAaxis alters cortisol levels Long-term stress - System was not designed for long-term exposure to stress - Excessive discharge of cortisol, epi, NE can: • Suppress immune system • Increased BP and HR • Arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) • Neurochemical imbalance- mood disorders  Imbalance of chemicals leads you to being prone to depression • Lipids and fatty acids • Sleep issues  Sleep problems = mood problems  Need to reach all stages of sleep to get restorative properties What makes events stressful? - Degree of stress is dependent on assessment (and stress is a personal experience) - Negative events are more likely to cause stress - Uncontrollable or unpredictable events also cause stress - Ambiguous events also cause stress - Level of individual tasks (ex: overloaded) • Ex: asked to do an essay and it was due at midnight the same day, that will be a stressor - Central-life vs. peripheral stressors • Daily routine become more stressful when there is a str
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