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PSYC 314 - Chapter 6 Summary Notes.docx

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PSYC 314
Frances Chen

Chapter 6 Summary Textbook Notes L01 – What is stress? - negative emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological, cognitive and behavioural changes that are directed at altering the stressful event or accommodating to its effects. Stressor: noise, crowding, a bad relationship, job interviews, commute to work Person-environment fit: determines stress - Stress is the consequence of a persons appraisal processes: the assessment of whether personal resources are sufficient to meet the demands of the environment - persons recourses are adequate they experience less or little stress (may see situation as a challenge ) - person thinks resources are sufficient with the cost of great efforts they’ll experience moderate stress - person thinks their resources won’t be enough to meet an environmental stressor they’ll experience a great deal of stress L02 – What theories and models are used to study stress? FIGHT OR FLIGHT - Walter Cannon (1932) - fight or flight response: when an organism perceives a threat, the body is rapidly aroused and motivated via the sympathetic nervous system and the endocrine system. This physiological response allows the organism to attack the threat or to flee. - Fight or flight used to refer to fighting or fleeing in response to a stressful event such as attach by a predator - Now fight refers to aggressive responses to stress, whereas flight = social withdrawal (or withdrawal through substance such as alcohol/drugs) - Adaptive, enables organism to respond quickly to threat - Harmful, stress disrupts emotional and physiological functioning - When stress continues strong it lays the groundwork for health problems. SELYE’S GENERAL ADAPTATION SYNDROME - Hans Selye’s (1956, 1970) “father of the field of stress research” - Exposed rats to extreme cold and fatigue (stressors) and observed physiological responses. All stressors produced very similar pattern of physiological responding they all lead to enlarged adrenal cortex, shrinking of the thymus, and lymph glands and ulceration of the stomach and duodenum. - His work closely explored adrenocortical responses to stress. - Selye’s developed concept of GAS by these observations. - He argues that when an organism confronts a stressor it mobilizes itself for action - Regardless of the cause of the threat, the person will response with the same physiological pattern of reactions - After repeated/prolonged exposure to the stressor there’ll be wear and tear on the system - GAS: Phase o 1) alarm: organism = mobilized to meet threat o 2) resistance: cope with threat (confrontation) o exhaustion: failure to overcome threat and depletes physiological resources in the process of trying - prolonged exposure to stress can lead to many diseases such as: cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, hypertension, and immune related deficiencies. Criticisms of GAP - very limited role to physiological factors (researches believe that physiological appraisal = important in determining stress) - responses to stress are uniform (evidence that not all stressors produce the same endocrinological responses) - how people respond to stress depends highly on personality, perceptions, and biological constitutions - Selye assessed stress as an outcome so stress would only be present if and after the GAS had occurred. However people experience stress while a stressful situation is occurring and sometimes in anticipation TEND AND BEFRIEND - in addition to fight or flight, humans respond to stress with social and nurturing behaviour (Especially females) - when responses to stress evolved men and women faced different adaptive challenges. Men  hunting and protection. Women  foraging and childcare - befriending = affiliating with others and seeking social contract during stress - depend on underlying biological mechanisms (i.e. oxytocin for females – oxytocin is a stress hormone rapidly releases in response to some stressful events. Animals with higher levels of oxytocin are calmer and more relaxed) - offers a biobehavioural approach to differences in male and females response to stress and bring social behaviour into stress processes PHYSIOLOGICAL APPRAISAL AND THE EXPERIENCE OF STRESS - in humans, psychological appraisals are a determinant of whether an event is responses to as stressful PRIMARY APPRAISAL PROCESSES - when individuals confront a new or changing environment they engage in a process of P.A. to determine the meaning of the event - event can be positive, neutral or negative (consequences) - negative or potentially negative events are further appraised for the possible harm, threat or challenge o harm: assessment of damage that an event produced o threat: assessment of potential future damage that an event can produce o challenge: potential to overcome and profit from the event SECONDARY APPRAISAL - at the same time that primary appraisal of stressful circumstance are occurring, secondary appraisal is initiated. - Secondary appraisal is the assessment of one’s coping abilities and resources and whether they will be sufficient to meet the harm, threat or challenge of the event - Potential responses to stress are many and include physiological, cognitive, emotional and behavioural consequences (voluntary/involuntary) o Cognitive responses: distractibility/inability to concentrate o Emotional responses: fear, anxiety; excitement o Behavioural responses: confrontative action (fight), withdrawal from threatening event (flight) THE PHSYIOLOGY OF STRESS - important because it causes physiological distress and leads to changes in the body (short/long term consequences of health) - sympathetic-adrenomedullary (SAM) system and hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenocortisol (HPA) axis are two systems (interrelated) that are heavily involved in the stress response SYMPATHETIC ACTIVATION - cerebral cortex labels events as harmful/threatening then it sets off a chain of reactions mediated by these appraisals. Information from the cortex goes to hypothalamus which initiates sympathetic nervous system arousal or fight/flight response. - Sympathetic arousal stimulates medulla of adrenal glands which secretes the catecholamines – epinephrine and norepinephrine (that’s what creates the feeling you get when you’re stressed) - Sympathetic arousal eleads to increase in blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, and constriction of peripheral blood vessels HPA ACTIVATION - hypothalamus releasers corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) this enables pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticiopic (ACTH) hormone which stimulates the adrenal cortex to release glucocorticoids - repeated activation of HPA axis in response to chronic stress/recurring stress can compromise its functioning - When HPA is deregulated: daily cortisol patterns may be altered, a general flattening of the diurnal rhythms, exaggerated cortisol response to a challenge or no response EFFECTS OF LONG-TERM STRESS - Over long term, excessive discharge of the catecholamine’s – epinephrine and norepinephrine can lead to suppression of immune functions: increase blood pressure and heart rate, provoke heart rate rhythm variations and neurochemical imbalance (leads to psychiatric disorders) - Corticosteroids: compromise functioning of immune system and prolonged cortisol secretion can lead to problems in verbal functioning, memory and concentration (because of effects on hippocampus) - Strong HPA activation is common in depression - Storage of fat in the abdominal areas rather than the hips - Stress may also impair the immune system’s capacity to respond to hormonal signals that terminate inflammation - Poor sleep is an indicator of chronic stress and a consequence of chronic stress. - Reactivity to stress can affect vulnerability to illness PSYCHOLOGICAL RECOVERY PROCESSES - inability to recover quickly from a stressful event may be a marker for the damage that stress caused. - Prolonged cortisol responses that occur under conditions of high stress – more susceptible to illnesses ALLOSTATIC LOAD - physiological systems within the body fluctuate to meet demands from stress, a state called allostasis - overtime, allostatic load builds up which is defined as the physiological costs of chronic exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuronendocinre response that results from repeated or chronic stress - buildup of allostatic load (long term costs of chronic or repeated stress)can be assessed through various ways: decreases in cell-mediated immunity, the inability to shut off cortisol in response to stress, lowered heart rate variability, elevated epinephrine levels, a high waist-to-hip ratio, volume of the hippocampus, problems with memory, high plasma fibroinogen, and elevated blood pressure. - Many of these things occur as age progresses so
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