Chapter 16 – Reading Notes
Stress and Health
Stressors: Specific events or chronic pressures that place demands on a person or threaten the
Stress: The physical and psychological response to internal or external stressors.
Health psychology: The sub-field of psychology concerned with ways psychological factors
influence the causes and treatment of physical illness and the maintenance of health.
Stressors are personal events that affect the comfortable pattern of our lives and little
annoyances that bug us day after day.
Chronic stressors: Sources of stress that occur continuously or repeatedly.
Stressors challenge you to do something, to take some action to eliminate or overcome the
Events are most stressful when there is nothing to do; no way to deal with the challenge.
A lack of perceived control underlies other stressors.
o Stressful effects of crowding You can’t control getting away from the crowded
Stress can produce changes in every system of the body and mind, stimulating both physical
reactions and psychological reactions.
Fight-or-flight response: An emotional and physiological reaction to an emergency that
increases readiness for action.
Hypothalamus stimulating nearby pituitary gland releases hormone known as ACTH
ACTH travels through bloodstream stimulates adrenal glands atop the kidneys adrenal
glands are stimulated to release hormones (catecholamine) increase sympathetic nervous
system activation decrease parasympathetic activation increase respiration and blood
pressure & make more oxygen available to the muscles to energize attack or initiate escape
adrenal gland also release cortisol (hormone that increases concentration of glucose in blood to
make fuel available to muscles).
General adaptation syndrome (GAS): A three-stage physiological stress response that appears
regardless of the stressor that is encountered.
GAS is nonspecific; response doesn’t vary no matter what the source of the repeated stress.
GAS occurring in 3 phases:
o Alarm phase – In which the body rapidly mobilizes its resources to respond to the threat.
Energy is required and body calls on its stored fat & muscle. Equivalent to Cannon’s
fight-or-flight response. o Resistance phase – Body adapts to its high state of arousal as it tries to cope with
stressor. Continuing to draw resources of fat & muscle, shuts down unnecessary
processes (digestion, growth, sex drive stall, menstruation stops, and production of
testosterone & sperm decreases). Body is taxed to generate resistance and puts a hold
on the fun stuff.
o Exhaustion phase – Body’s resistance collapse, many of the resistance-phase defenses
create gradual damage as they operate, leading to costs for the body can include
susceptibility to infection, tumour growth, aging, irreversible organ damage or death.
Immune system: A complex response system that protects the body from bacteria, viruses, and
other foreign substances.
Lymphocytes: Cells that produce antibodies that fight infection. White blood cells including T
cells and B cells.
Psychoneuroimmunology: The study of how immune system responds to psychological variables,
such as the presence of stressors.
Stressors can cause hormone known as glucocorticoids to flood the brain, wearing down the
immune system and making it less able to fight invaders.
Atherosclerosis: Gradual narrowing of the arteries that occurs as fatty deposits, or plaque, builds
up on the inner walls of the arteries.
o Narrowed arteries reduced blood supply.
o When an artery is blocked by a blood clot or by detached plaque, it will result in a heart
Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman (1974) conducted a revolutionary study that demonstrated
a link between work-related stress and coronary heart disease.
Type A behaviour pattern: A tendency toward easily aroused hostility, impatience, a sense of
time urgency, and competitive achievement strivings.
Primary appraisal: The interpretation of a stimulus as stressful or not.
Secondary appraisal: Determine whether the stressor is something you can handle or not.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Chronic physiological arousal, recurrent unwanted
thoughts or images of the trauma, and avoidance of things that call the traumatic event to mind.
Comparing people with and without PTSD, the hippocampus was found to be smaller in volume
among individuals with PTSD.
Burnout: A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion created by long-term
involvement in an emotionally demanding situation and accompanied by lowered performance
Repressive coping: Characterized by avoiding situations or thoughts that are reminders of a
stressor and maintaining an artificial positive viewpoint.
Rational coping: Facing the stressor and working to overcome it.
o Acceptance – Coming to realize that the stressor exist and cannot be wished away.
o Exposure – Attending to the stressor, thinking about it,