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Lecture 13

PSY 0010 Lecture 13: Chapter 13 Stress and Health

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University of Pittsburgh
PSY 0010
Jennifer Cousins

Chapter 16 Stress and Health Health psychology: the subfield of psychology concerned with the ways psychological factors influence the causes and treatment of physical illness and maintenance of health Stressors: specific events or chronic pressures that place demands on a person or threaten the person’s well-being Stress: the physical and psychological response to internal or external stressors Chronic stressors: sources of stress that occur continuously or repeatedly Stressful Events The degree of life change is a significant indicator of the person’s future illness. Chronic stressors: sources of stress that occur continuously or repeatedly Effects can accumulate and be long-lasting. Chronic stressors have been shown to be linked to environments through environmental psychology. Culture and Community Can being the target of discrimination cause stress and illness? In a study, preadolescents who had immigrated from Cuba and other Hispanic cultures were surveyed for discrimination. Those who reported discrimination also reported higher levels of worrying, anxiety, and bodily stress. Further research shows discrimination to be the cause. Perceived Control over Stressful Events Stressors challenge you to do something about it – having lack of control over the situation can add to the stress. Studies show that perceived control over stressful events can be related to more effective coping. Learned Helplessness Expectation based on previous experiences, that one’s efforts will fail. Learn to be helpless victims Widely used in depression research Must have efficacy, control or self-determination to be intrinsically motivated Physical Stress Reactions Fight-or-flight response: an emotional and physiological reaction to an emergency that increases readiness for action Stay and “fight” or “flee” the scene ACTH, the HPA axis, catecholamines, and cortisol Automatic involuntary response Increase heart rate, pupils dilate, increased supply of blood to muscles Was thought to be a masculine response General adaptation syndrome (GAS): a three-stage physiological response that appears regardless of the stressor that is encountered; GAS is non-specific and does not vary across stressors; developed by Hans Selye (1907-1982) Alarm phase (mobilize resources) Resistance phase (cope with stressor) Exhaustion phase (reserves depleted) Stress Effects on the Immune Response Immune system: a complex response system that protects the body from bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances Lymphocytes: white blood cells that produce antibodies that fight infection Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how the immune system responds to psychological variables (stressors). Stressors can cause glucocorticoids (hormones) to flood the brain and wear down the immune system. Decreased immune response may be related to social status, studies show. Stress and Cardiovascular Health The heart and circulatory system are sensitive to stress. The main cause of coronary heart disease is atherosclerosis. Research links intensity, drive, anger and hostility to increased rates of heart disease. Type A behavior pattern: the tendency toward easily aroused hostility, impatience, a sense of time urgency, and competitive achievement strivings; in comparison to Type B Hostility and Coronary Heart Disease The Real World: Why Sickness Feels Bad: Psychological Effects of Immune Response Misery is part of the sickness response. Sickness keeps you at home (less likely to spread) and in bed (conserves energy). Loss of appetite also conserves energy by digestive conservation. White blood cells and cytokines are activated and communicate the sickness response to the brain. Prompted by illness or stress Linked to depressive symptoms Stress Interpretation The interpretation of a stimulus as stressful or not is called primary appraisal. Determining whether the stressor is something you can handle/have control or not is called secondary appraisal. The body responds differently to a threat (negative appraisal) than a challenge (positive appraisal). Stress Disorders Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a disorder characterized by chronic physical arousal, recurrent unwanted thoughts or images of the trauma, and avoidance of things that call the traumatic event to mind 8% of Americans suffer from PTSD. Hippocampus may be smaller in PTSD sufferers. Burnout: a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion created by long-term involvement in an emotionally demanding situation and accompanied by lowered performance and motivation Helping professionals exp
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