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Chapter 15

Psychology 1000 Chapter Notes - Chapter 15: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Parasympathetic Nervous System, Survivor Guilt

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Laura Fazakas- De Hoog

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Chapter 15
"Stress, Coping, and Health"
The Nature of Stress
- life event scales - asks people to indicate not only whether a particular event occurred but also their
appraisal of whether the event was a positive or negative one and whether or it was a major event or a
"day-to-day" event
- four aspects of appraisal process are of particular significance:
(1) appraisal of the demands of the situation (primary appraisal)
(2) appraisal of the resources available to cope with it (secondary appraisal)
(3) judgments of what the consequences of the situation could be
(4) appraisal of the personal meaning, that is, what the outcome might imply about us
- chronic stress and the GAS
- general adaptation syndrome (GAS) - body's responses to a stressor, which includes
successive phases of alarm reaction, resistance, and exhaustion
- alarm reaction - body's natural tendency to maintain stable internal state of
homeostasis results in parasympathetic nervous system activity
- resistance - body's resource continue to be mobilized so that the person can
function despite presence of stressor
- exhaustion - body's resources are dangerously depleted if stressor is intense and
persists for too long
- stressors are events that place physical or psychological demands on people
- stressful defined by balance between demands and resources
Stress and Health
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- represents what can happen to victims of extreme stress and trauma
- severe anxiety disorder that is caused by exposure to traumatic life events, to severe stress
- 4 major symptoms...
(i) severe anxiety, physiological arousal (stress response), distress
(ii) painful controllable reliving of events in flashbacks, dreams, fantasies
(iii) emotional numbing and avoidance of stimuli associated with trauma
(iv) intense "survivor guilt" in instances where others were killed but the individual
- stress and illness
- exposure of hippocampus to prolonged elevations of stress-related hormones causes
deterioration of hippocampus and accompanying memory impairment
- stressor lasting a few hours can release sufficient stress hormone to induce structural
changes in hippocampus that last for a month+
- life stress can decrease immune functions, worsen pre-existing medical conditions, and increase risk of
illness and death
- cognitive protective factors: the importance of beliefs
- how one thinks about a situation and themselves are important protective and vulnerability
factors: (1) hardiness
- "three C's": commitment, control, challenge
- believe they are doing something important
- view themselves in control over outcomes
- see it as challenge or opportunity, not threat
(2) coping self-efficacy
- the conviction that we can perform behaviours necessary to cope successfully
- those experiencing increase in self-efficacy while confronting stressful situation
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