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Lecture 5

Lecture 5 - Stress and Moderators of Stressful Experience

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Nevena Simic

July 20, 2011 Lecture 5 – Stress and Moderators of Stressful Experience Stress 1. Usually a negative emotional experience 2. Predictable factors: biochemical, physiological, cognitive, and behavioral changes 3. Response can be directed either toward >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 4. Stress has 2 main components 1. Physical - direct material or physical challenges 2. Psychological - how we perceive circumstances in our lives 5. 3 ways of examining stress 1. Stress as a stimulus i. Focusing on external environment ii. Physical/psychological challenges = stressors 2. Stress as response i. Focus on people’s reactions ii. Strain - physical (heart pounds, mouth dry) & psychological (thought/emotion patterns) reactions 3. Stress as a process i. Relationship between person and environment ii. Transaction = continuous interactions and adjustments iii. Person and environment each affecting and being affected by the other 6. Stress = the circumstance in which transactions lead a person to perceive a discrepancy btw physical or psychological demands of a situation and the resources of his or his bio, psycho, and social aspects 7. Stress is in the eye of the beholder 1. Individual differences are huge factor! 8. Perceptions of discrepancies between environmental demands and actual resources 1. Can be either real or just believed to exist 2. Stress is often results from inaccurate perceptions Appraising events as Stressful 3. Assessment of whether personal resources are sufficient to meet the demands of environ = cognitive appraisal 9. Mental processes involving 2 assessments: 1. Whether demand threatens physical or psychological well-being 2. Resources available for meeting the demand Theories of Stress 10.Cannon’s Fight-or-Flight response • Perceive threat >> Sympathetic & endocrine system >> prepares body to attack or run • Evolutionary advantage = Flee predators • Today = withdrawal from drugs • Adrenomedullary response - in response to stress the adrenal medulla will release Norepinephrine and Epinephrine (catecholamines) • Positive effects > fast response to danger • Negative effects > prolonged arousal can be harmful to health • Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome • Canadian father of stress research • Conducted mainly with rats exposed to different stressors • Stress response for rats always stayed the same physiologically • Called this series of physiological reactions the general adaptation syndrome (GAS) • GAS >> an andrenocortical response • Glucocorticoids released from the adrenal cortex • Physiological response Enlarged adrenal cortex Smaller thymus and lymph glands • Important for immunity Ulceration of the stomach and duodenum • 3 stages Alarm Reaction • Cannon’s fight-or-flight response • Fast-increasing arousal • Results from the activation of hypothalamus- pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) i. CRH (from hypothalamus) >> ACTH (from anterior pituitary) >> cortisol (from adrenal cortex) >> sends negative feedback back to hypothalamus Stage of Resistance • Strong stressor continues but is not severe enough to cause death • Body tries to adapt to stressor i. Physiological arousal remains high ii. Body replenishes adrenal hormones • Impaired ability to resist stressors i. Vulnerable to health problems (diseases of adaptation) ii. Ulcers, high BP, asthma, impaired immune function Stage of Exhaustion • Resources are limited July 20, 2011 • Inability to resist disease • Disease and damage to internal organs is likely • Death may occur • Criticisms of Seyle’s GAS • Assigns a very limited role to psychological or social factors • >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>. Physiology of Stress • 2 systems invovled • Sympathetic adrenomedullary (SAM) system Cortex >> Hypo SNS >> Adrenal medulla (epinephrine, norepinephrine) >> increased BP, heart rate • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis Hypo (CRF) >> pituitary (ACTH) >> adrenal cortex (cortisol) >> conserve energy, homeostasis, decreased inflammation, increased production of growth hormone, prolactin • Biological aspects of stress • Increased heart rate, muscles trembling • Body is aroused and motivated to defend itself • Activation of sympathetic nervous system AND endocrine system • Reactivity - physiological portion of stress response • How much we shake, tremble • Influenced by genetic makeup or chronic stress • Degree of change that occurs in body from stress • Affects vulnerability to illness Less reactive children get sick less Higher reactivity related to poorer immune function • Allostatic load • Phsyiological systems in the body fluctuate in response to stress • Over time the load can build and represent the physiological cause of stress for a person • Represents the premature physiological aging of our organs •Long term = decreased cell-mediated immunity • Can’t shut off cortisol production • Heart rate less variable • Increased epinephrine • Increased hip-waist ratio (belly fat) • Taylor’s "Tend-and-Befriend" • We respond to stress with social and nurturing behavior • Especially true of women • Evolutionary advantage: hunting vs gathering behavior • More likely than men to turn to each other in response to stress • Role of stress hormone oxytocin • Influenced by estrogen levels • Increased affiliative (social) behavior >> increased production of oxytocin (espeically mothering • Increased oxytocin >> relaxed and calm behavior • Missing from earlier models • Lazarus = psychological view of stressors • Primary appraisal
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