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University of Toronto Mississauga
Dax Urbszat

Chapter 13 – Stress March 3, 2011 Samantha Rahaman The Nature of Stress Stress is any circumstance that threatens or perceives to threaten one’s well being and thereby tax one’s coping Many everyday events such as waiting in line, having car trouble, shopping for gifts and/or misplacing one’s chequebook are all different types of stress A major event such as getting a divorce can also lead to a number of stressors such as looking for a lawyer, changing bank accounts and taking on new household responsibilities. The Culmative Nature of Stress Stress adds up: At home, at school and at work A study of hospitalized patients awaiting surgery showed only a slight correlation between the objective seriousness of a person’s upcoming surgery and the amount of fear experienced by the patient. This notion concludes that people’s appraisal of stressful events is highly Major Types of Stressors Acute Stressors: are threatening events that have a relatively short duration and a clear end point. For example, dealing with an exam. Chronic Stressors: are threatening stressors that have a relatively long duration and no really apparent time limit. For example, an ongoing pressure from a hostile boss at work. Four Major Types of Stressors 1. Frustration: This is when the pursuit of the goal is thwarted Traffic jams, can lead to intense anger and aggression Failure and losses can also cause frustration 2. Conflict: This is when two or more incompatible motives or behavioral impulses compete for expression. High levels of conflict are associated with high levels of anxiety, depression and physical symptoms • Approach- approach is when a choice must be made between two attractive goals • Avoidance- avoidance is when a choice must be made between two unattractive goals. For example, choosing whether to be unemployed or doing a degrading job. • Approach- avoidance is when a choice between choosing a goal that is both attractive and unattractive in some aspects, therefore, you find yourself going back and fourth until you find the perfect solution. 3. Change: Any noticeable alteration in one’s living circumstance that requires re-adjustment. The Social Readjustment Scale (SRS) measures life change as a form of stress People with higher scores on SRS tend to be more vulnerable to many kinds of physical illness Chapter 13 – Stress March 3, 2011 Samantha Rahaman Life change is inedibility stressful Some life changes may be quite challenging while others are quite 4. Pressure: pressure from what we have to and what we want to do at the same time. The expectations or demands that one behaves in a For example, stand up comedians are constantly under pressure to make people laugh Pressure has turned out to be more strongly related to mental health Pressure is often self-imposed. For example, signing up for an extra class to finish school faster) Emotional Responses – When people are under stress they react emotionally There is a link between specific cognitive reactions to stress (appraisals) and emotions • Annoyance, anger and rage • Apprehension, anxiety and fear • Dejection, sadness and grief Positive emotions can widen people’s scope of attention and promote healthy coping responses Positive emotions can lead to an enhanced immune response Effects of Emotional Arousal Emotions serve as warnings that one needs to take action High emotional arousal can interfere with attention and memory retrieval and impair judgment and decision making The inverted U hypothesi s predicts that task performance should improve with increased emotional arousal As a task becomes more complex, the optimal level of arousal (for peak performance) tends to decrease Physiological Responses The fight or flee response is part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) which controls the blood vessels, smooth muscle and glands An acceleration in their breathing and heart rate and a reduction in their digestive process Most human stressors cannot be handled through flight or flee response The General Adaption Syndrome Hans Selye – exposed lab animals to both physical and psychological stressors and found that stress reactions are non-specific. The Body Stress Response: Alarm Reaction: organism first recognizes the existence of the threat Resistance: psychological changes stabilizes as coping effects get underway Arousal continues to be higher than normal, although it may level off somewhat as the organism becomes accustomed to the threat Chapter 13 – Stress March 3, 2011 Samantha Rahaman Exhaustion: If the stress can’t be overcome, the body resources may be depleted Brain-Body Pathways 1. The Endocrine System: Glands located at various sites in the body that select specific hormones. The hypothalamus is the structure that ignites actions along these two pathways. Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) stimulates the adrenal gland (adrenal medulla) to release large amounts of acetocholimines into the Pituitary Gland is also known as the master gland as it secretes the hormone acetylcholine (atch) to release another set of hormones corticosteroids that helps increase your energy and help inhibit tissue inflammation incase of injury The human brain is capable of neurogenesis – The formation of new neurons, primarily in key areas of the hypothalamus Behavioral Responses – Coping refers to active efforts to master, reduce or tolerate the demands created by stress. Giving Up and Blaming One’s self Learned helplessness is a passive behavior produced by exposure to unavoidable aversive events Individuals believe that events are beyond their control People who are better able to disengage from unattainable goals report heath and exhibit lower levels of stress Castrophic thinking causes aggravates and perpetuates emotional reactions to stress that are often problematic Negative self – thinking can lead to severe depressive disorder Striking out at Others
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