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Chapter 3

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PSYC 365
David Cox

Psyc 365 Ch3- Stress and Coping • Issues of definition: o Stress= the non-specific mental or somatic result of any demand upon the body o Coping= strategies that an individual employs to deal with stresses caused by ever changing demands of the environment  These concepts have always existed but are defined differently by everyone o Stress literacy= degree to which an indiv (or community) is knowledgeable about the effects of stress  Beings with a useful defn of stress  Research on stress problematic b/c lack of consensus on meaning of it (same for term coping) o Selye said that for most ppl stress viewed as a negative thing and is equated w/distress  Eustress= positive yet stressful experience (state of physical and psychological well being associated w/increased motivation and acceptance of challenge) • This term coind to deal with negative position on word “stress” • Essential is sense of balance- function best when stress to produce optimal level of arousal  First used term stress (taken from physics), later changed to Strain  Observed consistent pattern in rats when threatened (general adaptation syndrome OR biological stress syndrome) • Saw Alarm rxn where defences activated, Adaptive/rebound phase (if survive attack) aka stage of resistance,a nd finally Stage of exhaustion (if demands sufficient) o Lazurus and Folkman say stress is decribed in terms of rlnshp b/c person and environment that’s appraised as good or bad  Also overlapping terms suggested of anxiety, frustration, conflict, trauma, emotional distress • Says “stress” a uniting term for all of the above  Says “coping” is defined as “constantly changing cognitive and behavioural efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demandes that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of person” o Walter Cannon:  Homeostasis: dynamic physiological response on the part of the body to maintain a stable internal state in spite of the demands of the environment  Fight or flight response= body’s complex autonomic reaction when faced with a perceived threat • SNS and hormones secreted by adrenal glands interact in adaptive response developed thru evolution which helps us cope w/ptl threats/attacks  Expressed concern about implicatiosn of stress for physical illness w/continuous fight/flight activiation  Recently proposition taht women “tend and befriend” more than fight/flight (in relation to nurturing offspring) o Rice:  Dif meanings attached to stress: • External causes (environmental demands)- stressors o Invoke coping strategies to deal with these stressors • Stress concerned w/subjective responses and refers to interpretive mental state of individual (allows us to react cognitively to diminish, augment or distort impact of external events) • Strain= long term consequences of stress exposure resulting in physiological problems • The physiology of stress: o Nervous system (one of major components in physical response to stress made up of central and peripheral NS)  Central NS: brain and spinal cord  Peripheral NS: somatic and autonomic ns (further into sympathetic nd parasympathetic NS)  Stress beings w/perceived threat, then this perception mobilizes body to act thru 2 interrelated systems • 1- sympathetic adrenomedullary system (Sympathetic NS and adrenal medulla important) • 2- hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (initiates response in hypothalamus) o Endocrine system (other major component in physical response to stress- system of body taht ctrls glandular responses but slower than NS) o Stress begins in hypothalamus (central core of brain) which initiates response in NS and endocrine system  also elps maintain homeostasis in body thru many regulatory functions  activity increases arousal in sympathetic NS in fight/flight response so heart beats faster, BP increases, hands/feet bblood vessels constrict so enough blood to skeletal muscles and brain  stored fats and glucose flow into bloodstream to provide fuel, respiration increases, bronchial tubes dilate to get more oxygen in, pupils dilate for more light/improved vision o Adrenal medulla: central portion of adrenal ggland that secretes catecholamines (w/adrenaline and noradrenaline) when hypothalamus initiates stress response  Categcholamines affect Sympathetic NS  Adrenaline fast acting, noradrenaline more prolonged and increases w/physical activity o Limbic system: adds element of emotion to response  Aggression, fear, anxiety, sexual arousal, pain o Reticular formation= runs thru middle of brain stem s communication network to filter msgs b/w body and brain  Receives all input from sensory system and can influence which info is processed or blocked (this selectivity increases efficiency in the system)  Also modulates brain’s arousal/alertness in preparation for action o Parasympathetic NS= component of autonomic NS that re-establishes homeostasis in system and promotes reconstrctuve process following stressful experience o Pituitary gland= located in brain (aka master gland) and secretes hormones, most of which have indirect impact on stress  Most important is ACTH which acts on adrenal glands and is eventually involved in release of up to 30 sterss hormones o Adrenal cortex= outer portion of adrenal gland that provides hormones to body at times of stress  These hormones provide energy and increased blood pressure but can also adversely affect body’s ability to resist disease and recover  Cortisol levels often used as index of stress, aldosterone regulates minerals in body during stress by increasing BP o Thyroid gland= produces thyroxine which increases release of fatty acid fuels that are metabolized in stress process  Increase BP and respiration rate, also affects mental processes (anxious or agitated) o Pancreas= secretes insulin and glucagon to affect blood sugar  Insulin decreases blood sugar by storing it, glucagon increases it (energy source) • General Adaptation syndrome: 3 stage response of body to stressors (Selye) o 1-Alarm phase= body mobilizes defences (fight or flight) o 2-Resistance= set of physiological responses that allow person to deal w/stressor- body now mobilizes resources if source or stress moves from acute to chronic o Diseases of adaptation= health problems that are the result of long term neurological and hormonal changes present b/c of ongoing stress  (ie cardiovascular disease, hypertension, peptic ulcers, bronchial asthma, and increased risk of infection) o 3- Exhaustion= body experiences fatigue and immunocompromise b/c of severity/duration of a stressor  Body’s ability to resist stressor breaks down possibly resulting in death if homeostasis not possible o Criticisms= too narrow b/c only concerned w/physical responses to stress o Stress-diathesis model= interaction b/w environment and heredity (aka nature vs nurture) which proposes taht predisposing factors in an indiv may determine whether or not a physical effect is experienced in the presence of stressful events • Cognitive transactional models: o Selye’s theory limited by concentration on physiological processes (more animal, not accounting for cognition- higher human function) o Cognitive transactional models= emphasize rlnshp that exists b/w a person and their environment and the appraisal that the indiv makes of the situation  Cognitive appraisal= assessment of whether or not an event is stressful • Based on indiv’s unique social learning history • 3 types: o primary (initial evaluation)  3 kinds= irrelevant (situation no implications to own wellbeing and requires no response) • Benign positive= involves outcomes that are positive and may enhance wellbeing o Only demands these place on person is awareness that feelings will end • Stressful= harm/loss/threat seen (or challenege at time of primary appraisal) o 3 types= harm/loss (involves signicant physical or psychological loss) o Threat (anticipation of threat/loss- allow ppl to prepare for the future) o Challenge (focus on positive excitement and ptl for growth)  More likely result in feeling in ctrl  Confronting= getting thru situation even in overwhelming odds o secondary (evaluation of own ability to cope after evaluation)  Consider coping options and likelihood strategy will work and likelihood of their success at applying strategy  Similar to distinction Bandura made on outcome and efficacy judgments (outcome determination for efficacy of strategy, self efficacy determination for action) o reappraisal (continuous experience in which existing apprasials of situations are changed on the basis of new info)  follows previous appraisal though what may vary is direction of appraisal outcome  defensive reappraisal= self generated coping strategy where attempt made to reinterpret past events more positively/less threatening • Also in appraisal process is concept of Vulnerability (physically, the adequacy of an indiv’s resources; psychologically, when that which is valued by the indiv is threatened) o Vulnerability defined in context of rlnshp • Cognitive transactional model also identifies person and situation variables o Person= variables, esp commitments and beliefs, that interact w/situation variables to affect the appraisal of a situation in terms of stressfulness  Commitments= influence appraisal by determining importance of particular encounter and that affect the choices made to achieve a desired outcome • Interact w/concepts in primary appraisal (challenge, threat, benefit, harm)  Beliefs= pre-existing notions, both personal and cultural, that influence appraisal, and thus stress, by determining the meaning given to the environment • Their impact most obvious when there’s a sudden change in belief system o Situation variables= interact w/person variables to influence appraisal  Person and situation variables interdependent and involve transactions b/w person and environment o Factors affecting appraisal process:  Novelty= extent to which an indiv’s previous experience w/a situation influences the appraisal process  Predictability= environment characteristic that allows indiv to prepare for an event and thereofore reduce stress  Event uncertainty= inability yo predict probability of an event, which, as aresult, increases the stress response  Imminence= interval during which event being anticipated (more imminent, more intense appraisal)  Duration= situational factor involved in stress appraisal (period during which stressful event occurs)  Temporal uncertainty= lack of knowledge as to when an event will occur, which can result in stress • The role of personality in stress and coping o Proposed rlnshpss b/w personality and di
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