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Chapter 2

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Health Sciences
Health Sciences 1001A/B
Shauna Burke

What is Stress?  Stress refers to: 1. Situations that trigger physical and emotional reactions = STRESSOR 2. The reactions themselves = STRESS RESPONSE STRESS: the general physical and emotional state that accompanies the stress response Responses to Stressors  The primary determinant of the health consequences of stress is how the individual responds to the stress (copes with the stress)  Responses to stressors include: 1) Physical Changes 2) Emotional and behavioural responses Physical Responses to Stressors  Two control systems are responsible for the physical response to stressors: 1. Nervous system 2. Endocrine system Physical Responses to Stressors Nevous System  Autonomic Nervous System o Part of the nervous system that is not under conscious supervision o Consists of two divisions 1) Parasympathetic Division  In control when you are relaxed  Aids in digestion, storing energy, growth promotion 2) Sympathetic Division  Activated during arousal and emergency situations (pain, anger, fear)  Releases norepinephrine which commands body to mobilize energy resources to respond to crisis and causes arousal (increases attention and alertness) when released in the brain  Norepinephrine is also called noradrenalin Physical Responses to Stressors  Endocrine System o The system of glands, tissues, and cells that help control body functions by releasing hormones and other chemicals into the bloodstream o Helps prepare the body to respond to a stressor Physical Responses to Stressors Nervous System and Endocrine System  BRAIN DETECTS THREAT: o Neurochemical message sent to HYPOTHALAMUS (hormone control system in brain) which releases chemicals (chemical wakeup call) to PITUITARY GLAND which releases adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) into bloodstream o ACTH reaches ADRENAL GLANDS which release CORTISOL and other key hormones into the bloodstream (release of cortisol is related to health consequence, people who have higher cortisol in their blood stream a lot, it later results in negative health consequences) Physical Responses to Stressors  Nervous System + Endocrine System  SIMULTANEOUSLY: o Sympathetic nerves instruct ADRENAL GLANDS to release the hormone EPINEPHRINE (adrenaline) which triggers several bodily changes o Examples: acute hearing and vision, increase heart rate, increase perspiration, etc. o (stressor does not have to be real, if we imagine it or think about it, it can trigger all the stress hormones) Physical Responses to Stressors  Nervous System + Endocrine System = FIGHT- OR- FLIGHT REACTION (Sir Walter Cannon) **Physical changes vary in intensity but the same physical reactions occur in response to both positive and negative stressors (e.g. positive stressors: graduation, sports) Physical Responses to Stressors Homeostasis  A state in which blood pressure, heart rate, hormone levels, and other vital functions are maintained within a narrow range of normal  Once a stressful situation ends, the parasympathetic division of the ANS initiates adjustments necessary to restore homeostasis (tries its best to reverse everything we feel when we are under stress) Physical Responses to Stressors  FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT REACTION IN MODERN LIFE o A survival mechanism that is part of our biological heritage o Not often necessary—many stressors we encounter do not require a physical reaction o Fight-or-flight reaction prepares the body for physical action regardless of whether it is an appropriate response Emotional and Behavioural Responses to Stressors TEND AND BEFRIEND  In addition to fight-or-flight, humans may respond to stress with social and nurturant behavior  Especially characteristic of females; female response to stress evolved to protect self and offspring  May depend on underlying biological mechanisms (e.g. hormone oxytocin), there is no proof of this (why women have an additional response to stress) STRESS AND DISEASE Explaining Stress and Disease 1) The General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)  Developed by Hans Selye (1936)  Stressors can be pleasant = “Eustress”  Stressors can be unpleasant = “Distress”  Sequence of physical response is the same for both  Three reaction stages (he exposed rats to stressors, like cold climate, overcrowding, etc.): 1. The General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)  Stage One: ALARM (initial stressor) o Includes fight-or-flight response o Body is prepared to deal with crisis  more susceptible to disease o Symptoms = headaches, indigestion, anxiety, disrupted sleep/eating  Stage Two: RESISTANCE(continued stress) o New level of home
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