A biopsychosocial model holds that physical illness is caused by an interaction of
biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.
There are two types of illness: chronic and contagious. A chronic illness has a long
duration and progresses slowly over an extended period of time, whereas a contagious
illness is infectious and quickly spreads germs, tending to be less serious than chronic.
Health psychology is about exploring how psychosocial factors promote health and
finding causes, prevention and treatment of illness.
Stress is a reaction to environmental demands. It threatens our wellbeing. It can be acute
or chronic, with acute stress having a short duration and chronic stress being longterm.
There are three types of conflict that psychologists have identified:
Approachapproach (a person is torn between choosing two goals, ie. pizza or spaghetti)
Avoidanceavoidance (a person is torn between choosing to avoid one of two goals, ie.
avoid being unemployed or avoid having a degrading job)
Approachavoidance (considering the positives and negatives of one goal)
Positive emotions provide people with a lot of benefits. They create feelings of gratitude,
positive bonds between people, enhance mental health, and reduce levels of stress
Selye’s three major stages to reacting to stress are:
Alarm reaction: defensive forces are called in
Resistance stage: body adapts to stressors
Exhaustion: stressors reject body’s coping mechanisms.
Holmes & Rahe’s research supports that the more change occurs in your lifetime, the
more likely you are to get sick.
The inverted U chart shows that with a medium amount of stress, performance is most
effective. This is because you need the right amount of stress to accomplish a task. A low
amount of stress results in boredom and fatigue feelings, whereas a high amount of stress
leads to exhaustion and irrational problem solving. Therefore, in those cases performance
is only slightly effective.
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a condition of constant mental and emotional stress
due to injury or severe psychological shock. It disturbs sleep, dulls the individual’s
response to the outside world, and gives them constant vivid recalls of the incident.
Some patterns of stress reaction are:
Emotional distress (insomnia, fatigue, depression, loss of appetite)
Medication use (pills, recreational drugs)
Cardiovascular symptoms (high blood pressure, coronary heart disease)
Gastrointestinal symptoms (ulcers, nausea, diarrhea) Allergy respiratory symptoms (allergies, skin problems, respiratory problems)
Personal Stress Management: Building Resiliency and Coping
Sing Lin made a chart that correlated age at retirement with the average age death. He
concluded that for every year one works beyond age 55, one loses 2 years of life span on
average. Therefore, exhaustion from work takes over people’s lives.
There are two main types of coping: adaptive coping and maladaptive coping. While
adaptive coping methods improve functioning, maladaptive coping enforce negative
techniques towards how to handle problems. This often leads to behavioral
disengagement, which is the term that targets the action of giving up.
In everyday life, people cope through various selfexplanatory methods, such as:
Giving up and blaming oneself
Striking out at others
Constructive coping confronts problems directly, uses realistic coping resources,
recognizes disruptive emotional reactions to stress and makes an effort to not let the body
be damaged by the effects of stress.
The role of stress is to provide ambiguity (uncertainty), conflict, overload, no
participation in decisionmaking etc.
Researchers suggest that cynicism (distrust, expecting the worst in people) is fatal. When
measuring hostility, Williams found that those who had scored high were 50% more