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Chapter 16

PSYA02 - Chapter 16

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Steve Joordens

PSYA02 – Chapter 16 – Stress and Health - Stressors: Specific events or chronic pressures that place demands on a person or threaten the person’s well being o Such stressors rarely result in sudden death, they do have both immediate and cumulative effects that can influence health - Stress: The physical and psychological response to internal or external stressors - Health Psychology: The subfield of psychology concerned with ways psychological factors influence the causes and treatment of physical illness and the maintenance of health Sources of Stress: What Gets to You - Stressors are personal events that affect the comfortable pattern of our lives and little annoyances that bus us day after day Stressful Events - Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe: Proposed that major life changes cause stress and that increased stress caused illness - Compared with negative events, positive events produce less psychological distress and fewer physical symptoms - Positive events often require readjustment and preparedness that many people find extremely stressful Chronic Stressors - Chronis Stressors: Sources of stress that occur continuously or repeatedly o Ex. Strained relationships, long lines at the supermarket, nagging relatives, overwork, money troubles – small stressors can accumulate to produce distress and illness o Usually linked to environment – noise, traffic, crowding, pollution, threat of violence (cities) ; isolation, lack of access to amenities such as health care (Rural areas) - Chronic stressors are linked to environment has spawned the subfield Environmental Psychology: The scientific study of environmental effects on behavior and health Perceived Control over Stressful Events - Stressors challenge you to do something – to take some action to eliminate or overcome the stressor; events are most stressful when there is nothing to do – no way to deal with it - David Glass and Jerome Singer, in studies of perceived control, looked at aftereffects of loud noise on people who could or could not control it o Bursts of such noises hurt people’s performance on the tasks after the noise was over - Lack of perceived control underlies other stressors too; crowding – appear to stem from the feeling that you can’t control getting away from the crowded conditions Stress Reactions: All Shook Up - March 28, 1979; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Three Mile Island nuclear plant reactor released radioactivity into the air and into the Susquehanna River o Study done a year and half after; group showed physical signs of stress: high levels of catecholamines (biochemicals indicating the activation of emotional systems), fewer white blood cells to fight infections o Also suffered psychological effects, high levels of anxiety, depression, alienation Physical Reactions - Walter Cannon, coined a phrase to describe body’s response to any threatening stimulus “Fight- or-flight response” (an emotional and physiological reaction to an emergency that increases readiness for action) - During this reaction… o Brain activation in response to threat occurs in the hypothalamus, stimulating the pituitary gland releasing hormone ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). ACTH travels through bloodstream and stimulates the adrenal glands atop the kidneys. The HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal), the adrenal glands are stimulated to release hormones (catecholamines), which increase sympathetic nervous system activation (increase heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate) and decrease parasympathetic activation o Increased respiration and blood pressure make more oxygen available for fight or flight; adrenal glands also release cortisol, a hormone that increases the concentration of glucose in the blood to make fuel available to the muscles General Adaptation Syndrome - Hans Selye, undertook a variety of experiments that looked at the physiological consequences of severe threats to well-being (subjected rats to heat, cold, infection, trauma, hemorrhage and etc.) - Stressed out rats developed physiological responses: Enlarged adrenal cortex, shrinking of the lymph glands, and ulceration of the stomach - General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS): Three-stage physiological stress response that appears regardless of the stressor that is encountered; GAS is nonspecific, the response doesn’t vary, no matter what the source of the repeated stress o Alarm Phase: Body rapidly mobilizes its resources to respond to the threat. Energy is required and the body calls on its stored fat and muscle o Resistance Phase: Body adapts to its high state of arousal as it tries to cope with the stressor. Continuing to draw on resources of fat and muscle, it shuts down unnecessary processes: digestion, growth, sex drive stall; menstruation stops; production of testosterone and sperm decreases o Exhaustion Phase: The body’s resistance collapse. Resistance-phase defenses creates gradual damage as they operate, leading to costs for the boy that can include susceptibility to infection, tumor growth, aging, irreversible organ damage or death Stress Effects on the Immune Response - Immune System: A complex response system that protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances o System includes white blood cells, lymphocytes (T cells and B cells): Cells that produce antibodies that fight infection - Psychoneuroimmunology: The study of how the immune system responds to psychological variables, such as the presence of stressors - Stressors can cause hormones known as glucocorticoids to flood the brain, wearing down the immune system and making it less able to fight invaders Stress and Cardiovascular Health - Heart and circulatory system are also sensitive to stress; example: Several days after Iraq’s 1991 missile attack on Israel, heart attack rates went up markedly among citizens in Tel Aviv - Main cause of coronary heart disease is atherosclerosis: a gradual narrowing of the arteries that occurs as fatty deposits, or plaque, build up on the inner walls of the arteries - Cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman developed concept; Type A Behavior Pattern: A tendency toward easily aroused hostility, impatience, a sense of time urgency, and competitive achievement Psychological Reactions Stress Interpretation - Primary appraisal allows you to realize that a small dark spot on your shirt is a stressor (SPIDER!) - Secondary appraisal determines whether the stressor is something you can handle or not— whether you can control over the event o Body responds differently whether it is perceived as a threat (a stressor you believe you might not be able to overcome) or a challenge (a stressor you feel fairly confident you can control)  Both threats and challenges raise heart rate, threats increase vascular reactivity (constrictions of the blood vessels) Stress Disorders - PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder): Chronic physiological arousal, recurrent unwanted thoughts or images of trauma, and avoidance of things that call the traumatic event to mind Burnout - 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 o Is a problem in helping professions (Teachers, nurses, clergy, doctors, dentists, psychologist, social workers, police officers and etc.) -- People with burnout tend to become disgruntled employees who revel in their coworkers’ failures and ignore their coworkers’ successes - What causes burnout? o Using your job to give meaning to your life. If you define yourself only by your career and gauge your self-worth by success at work, you risk having nothing left when work fails. Stress Management: Dealing with It Mind Management - Stressful events are magnified in the mind; intrusive memories of stressful events could echo in our minds afterwards Repressive Coping - Repressive Coping: Characterized by avoiding situations or thoughts that are reminders of a stressor and maintaining an artificially positive viewpoint Rational Coping - Rational Coping:Facing the stressor and working to overcome it - Opposite of repressive coping; seems to be the most unpleasant and unnerving thing you could do when faced with stress – requires approaching rather than avoiding a stressor in order to lessen its longer-term negative impact - 3 step process o Acceptance: Coming to realize that the stressor exists and cannot be wished away o Exposure: Attending to the stressor, thinking about it and even seeking it out o Understanding: Working to find the meaning of the stressor in your life - “Prolonged exposure” rape survivors relive the traumatic event in their imagination by recording a verbal account of the event and then listening to the recording daily o Remarkably effective, producing significant reductions in anxiety and PTSD symptoms compared to no therapy and compared to other therapies Reframing - Reframing: Finding a new or creative way to think about a stressor that reduces its threat o Effective way to prepare for a moderately stressful situation - Stress Inoculation Training (SIT): A reframing technique that helps people to cope with stressful situations by developing positive ways to think about the situation Body Management - Stress expresses itself as tension in neck muscles, back pain, a knot in your stomach, sweaty hands, or the harried face you glimpse in the mirror - Stress often manifest itself, bodily techniques such as relaxation, biofeedback and aerobic exercise are useful in its management Relaxation - Edmund Jacobson, discovered that when a person was asked to imagine something (scratching your chin), would produce slight levels of tension in the muscles involved in perfor
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