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Lecture 4

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3390
Mary Manson

Chapter 5 – Stress and adjustment disorders What is stress?  Stress the adjustive demands placed on an organism’s internal biological and psychological responses to such demands AND a by-product of inadequate or poor coping  Stressors (adjustive demands) obstacles in life  Coping strategies efforts to deal with stress  Eustress positive stress – stress brought on by a wedding  Distress negative stress – stress brought on by a funeral o Often does more damage  Stressors can be identified as a causal effect in specified Axis IV disorders (adjustment, acute stress and PTSD Categories of stressors  3 basic categories: frustrations, conflicts and pressures  frustrations o internal and external circumstances that lead to self-devaluation and feelings of incompetence  conflicts o simultaneous occurrences between incompatible needs or motives o approach-avoidance conflicts strong tendencies to approach and avoid the same conflict  want to get into a certain psych class because the proff is amazing but have heard it is a lot of work and I already have a busy semester o double approach conflicts choosing between 2 or more desirable goals  e.g. 2 classes that I want to take are both offered at 2:30 on Tues and Thurs and both classes sound amazing. one has an amazing proff but I don’t know anyone in the class while my best friends are in the other class but I don’t really know the proff o double avoidance conflict choosing between 2 undesirable alternatives  e.g. you have a huge paper and a midterm and only 1 day. You can either split your time and possibly fail both or pick one to get a 0 on  pressures o need to achieve certain goals  external pressures – parents want me to do well in school  internal pressures – I want to get into good graduate program factors predisposing a person to stress  the severity of the stressor increases the stress  personality affects how you perceive the stressor and how much it affects you  the nature of the stressor o the longer the stressor operates, the more stress it occurs o strressors can have a cumulative effect o shift workers rather then scheduled workers are more likely to consider their jobs full of stress o proximity to a traumatic event also increases stress  the experience of the crisis o crisis times when a stressful sintuation approaches/exceeds the adaptive capacity of a person o often stressful because the stressors are ommre potent than nrmaly handled o crisis = overwhelmed while stressors are manageable o some crises can help a person become more adjusted then before if it encourages them to seek out new coping mechanisms i.e. support groups o crisis intervention providing psychological help in times of severe and special stress  life changes o the faster the change, the greater the stress o social read-adjustment rating scale – an objective method for measuring the cumulative stress to which a person has been exposed to over a period of time  measures stress in terms of Life Changing Units (LCU)  death of a spouse = 100 LCU  divorce = 73 LCU  vacations = 13 LCU  those with a rating of 300 LCU or more were at risk for getting major illnesses within 2 years o impact of Event Scale – measures stressful events by measuring a persons reaction to a stressor and asking a series of questions to identify the stress related symptoms a person is exeirencing  nit widely used as it is highly criticized o life event and difficulty schedule - a semi-structured interview in which the life event rating variables are put into clearly defined context to increase the interrater reliability  a persons perception of the stressor o different reactions to environmental stressors due to the way different people perceive stressors o people make 2 different appraisals  primary appraisal – is this a threat?  Secondary appraisal – can I cope?  E.g. a person can get a 60% on a test and some may see it as a threat and freak out while others are able to deal with it and will not be anxious about it  Knowing what to expect, understanding the reason of the stressor or finding some benefit will make the stress more easily handled  Individuals stress tolerance o Stress tolerance a persons ability to withstand stress without becoming seriously impaired o Stress tolerance is due to environmental and genetic factor o Early trauma can lead to sensitivity in stress o Stress in one area can lead to extreme sensitivity in that area particularly later on  Sexual assault can make a person extremely vulnerable in areas of sex and relationships  A lack of external resources and social supports o Positive social and family relationships can moderate the effects of stress on a person o Problems with interpersonal relationships were most commonly reported stressors in daily life o The stress of illness is compounded by the loss of support which is why most religions also have some sort of help for the bereaved Coping with stress  If you are already upset about something, you are predisposed to see a friend cancelling as an indication of your friendship  Coping with stress has 3 levels o Biological level – there are immunogical defenses and damage-repair mechanisms o Psychological and interpersonal level – there are learned coping patterns, self defenses and support from external environment o sociocultural level – group resources like religion and law enforcement agencies o failing to cope on any level will increase vulnerability to stress task oriented coping  task oriented response may involve making changes in ones self, ones surroundings or both depending on the situations defense oriented coping  defense oriented coping occurs when a persons feeling of adequacy is threatened by a stressor and act in a way to avoid feeling hurt rather then resolving the problem  2 types of responses o crying, repetitive talking, mourning o ego-defense mechanisms – denial, repression o often used together with task oriented coping o based on 3 steps 1) denying, distorting 2) reducing emotional or self involvement and 3) counteracting threat or damage adjustment disorder: reactions to common life stressors  adjustment disorder someone with this will have maladaptive responses to stressors and occur within 3 months of the stressor and a person is unable to function as usual o if maladaptive behaviour continues passed 6 months then other diagnosis may be made adjustment disorder caused by unemployment  loss of employment is huge stressor  serious long term effects harmful to self concept, self worth and feeling of belongingness adjustment disorder caused by bereavement  sudden death of a loved one accounts for 1/3 of PTSD cases  first reaction is disbelief  sadness  grief despair  those with defensive coping styles do not always go through the stage of grief  normal grieving process can take around a year and the griever usual y suffers negative health effects i.e. high blood pressure, change in eating habits  pathological reactions occur usually in those with severe dislike of the deceased and are now feeling extreme guilt adjustment disorder caused by divorce or separation  huge stressor for the people involved  marital disruption is a major source of vulnerability to psychopathology  divorce may motivate the task oriented coping response of seeking counseling posttraumatic stress disorder  traumatic event is persistently re-experienced through intrusi
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