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PSYC 102 Study Guide - Cortisol, Catecholamine, Coronary Artery Disease

7 pages51 viewsSpring 2014

Course Code
PSYC 102
Sherri Atwood

of 7
Ch 15 Stress, Coping, and Health
Nature of stress
View stress in 3 ways: a stimulus, a response, and an organism-enviro interaction
Stressors: eliciting stimuli or events that place strong demands on us
°can be physical or psychological stimuli; 3 types: all affect psychological and physical well-being
°microstressors: everyday hassles like school work , family relations, work
°catastrophic events: unexpected, affects large groups of people like war, natural disasters…
°major negative events: being the victim of a crime/sexual abuse, death of a loved one, career fail,
Stress has responses: cognitive, physio, and behavioural
°Or response: Personal-situation interaction/transaction between organism and enviro
Stress: pattern of cognitive appraisals, physio responses, and behavioral tendencies that occurs in
response to a perceived imbalance between situational demands and resources needed to cope with
Researchers rely on victim’s self-report when measuring stress; life event scales: link b/w event and
Early theorists believed any life event that requires adaptation (negative or positive in nature), is a
stressor but now only see negative events as a stressor
4 aspects in Stress response:
°Appraisal/evaluation of demands of the situation (primary appraisal)
°Appraisal of resources available to cope with (secondary appraisal)
°Judgments of what the consequences of the situation could be
°Appraisal of the personal meaning of what the outcome might imply about us
Primary appraisal: you are about to have an important job interview
°Depends on: demands (difficulty of interview) and significance of the well-being (how bad you need
the job), and your perceived ability to cope with the situation (resources available to deal with)
Secondary appraisal: coping resources include knowledge, abilities, verbal skills, social resources
(people who will give you emotional support and encouragement)
Potential consequences: of failing to cope successfully with the situation, including seriousness of the
consequence and likelihood that they will occur (may over/underestimate the seriousness of the
Psychological meaning: related to your beliefs about yourself/the world (feelings of self-worth depend
on how successful you are in the situation…you may believe in doing poorly during the interview and
you’re a failure)
As soon as we make appraisals, our body responds to them, or vice versa (eg: you appraise situation
as a threat in the starttremble when you enter vs you enter tremblingappraise the situation as
General adaptation syndrome (GAS): physio response pattern to strong and longed stressors
°Consists 3 phases: alarm reaction, resistance, and exhaustion
°Animals show a rapid increase in physio arousal: alarm reaction occur b/c of sudden activation of
sympathetic nervous system and the release of stress hormones by endocrine system (this reaction
helps body deal with stress)—activation of sympathetic system: more O2, pupil dilates=better
°Encodcrine/hormonal stress response: perception of threat leads to messages from
hypothalamuspituitary glandadrenal glandshormones (esp cortisol: increase blood
sugar,and O2may lead to depression and anxiety disorders)
We are more sensitive to visual stimuli, movement is faster and stronger, injury is less likely to generate
movement-limiting swellings; your body is primed and ready to act
Parasympathetic nervous system occur to reduce arousal (attempt to reach homeostasis)
°But if still stressed, parasympathetic may mute symapathetic arousal (resistance)(exhaustion)
Resistance: body’s resources continue to mobilize so the person can function despite the
presence of stressor; how long resistance last depends on severity of stress, individual health,
and available emotional support
Exhaustion: occur if stressor is intense and persists too long; body’s resources are dangerously
Increase vulnerability to diseases, collapse, even death
Stress and health
Effects on psychological well being: especially in catastrophic life eventspsychological disorders
Rape trauma syndrome: women still fear another attack even after months after the trauma (report
decrease in sexual activity
Normal stresses occur when there’s a negative life eventpsychological distress score (depression…)
(viceversa); a third factor (like neuroticism) may lead to negative life/psychological distress
PTSD: what happens to victims after extreme stress and trauma…severe anxiety disorder; 4
°Severe anxiety, physio arsousal, distress
°Painful uncontrollable reliving of trauma, flashbacks, dreams, fantasies
°Emotional numbing, avoidance of stimuli associated with trauma
°Intense survivor guilt in instances where others were killed but he survived
°May also show destructive and impulsive behavior
People who experience chronic stress of caring for a spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have
hih risk of developing their own health problems (eg: developing cancer, heart problems…)
Men: high stress can lead to heart disease; women: asthma and migraines
How stress link to psychological disorders (physio explanation): hormones secreted by adrenal gland
respond to stress; hormone affect activity of heart, and too much secretion can damage artieries (by
reducing fat metabolism, stress hormone can block with fat in arteries that cause heart attacks and
Stress can also cause breakdown in immune system
Stress hormone like cortisol can affect cognition: hippocampus (learn&memory impairment)
Vulnerability and protective factors
Vulnerability factors: increase one’s awareness to stressful events (lack of support, poor coping
Protective factors: enviro/personal resources that help people cope more effectively with stressful
social support: one of the most important enviro resourses: enhances immune system functioning
°allows people to feel like they are part of a social system, experience sense of meaning and identity
in their lives=greater psychological well-beings; emotional purging is helpful (release all emotions)
cognitive protective factors (importance of beliefs): the way we think about situations and ourselves are
important factors; Ex:
°hardiness: stress-protective factor of “3 Cs”: commitment, control, and challenge
hardy people are committed to their work, family, etc and they believe what they’re doing is

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