HLTB01H3S: Health, Aging and the Life Cycle
University of Toronto at Scarborough
The Interface between Physical and Mental Health
Personality Processes and Disease
• The idea that personality characteristics are related to health and illness is not new, by any
• Sigmund Freud is credited with developing the first Western scientific theory of mind, and
he believed that eventually psychological phenomena would be traced back to
• More recent research has reinstated the relationship between personality and disease
Psychological Risk Factors and Health
• Type A personality is also known as Type A Behaviour Pattern (TABP).
• There are two primary ways of assessing TABP. The first is through the Structured
Interview. The second way of assessing TABP is through self-report questionnaires.
• Type A people are easily aggravated and express hostility in some rather standardized
• There are a number of possibilities why hostility may lead to higher levels of coronary
heart disease (CHD) and overall mortality. People high in hostility tend to have poorer
health behavior habits. They are more likely to smoke, to drink excessively to weigh more,
and to be less active.
• There are several different anxiety such as phobias, self-report anxiety, and worries.
• Emotional distress, especially anxiety, is associated with a release of catecholamine, which
stimulates the heart rate.
• Individuals high in anxiety may show significant arrhythmias under stress, leading to arrest
and sudden death
• Relatively consistent effects of anxiety on heart disease and overall mortality have been
• Perhaps the strongest association between negative affect and health in late life is found
• Depressive symptoms were very unstable: most individuals who were depressed at one
time point were not necessarily depressed at the next assessment.
1 • People with high levels of depression have 1 ½ to 2 times the risk of developing CHD than
their non-depressed peers
• People who are depressed are more likely to be smokers, have a poor diet, and are less
likely to exercise.
• Loss of appetite and weight loss are symptoms of depression
Psychological Protective Factors and Health
Control and Self-Efficacy
• Many early studies showed the protective effect of control could have positive effect on
• Control can be a double-edged sword. Most control is rather illusory, and when that sense
of control is shattered, people may give up, sometimes with quite devastating
Optimism (Positive Outlook