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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Stress and Coping.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2036A/B
Sarah Khan

Chapter 7 Stress and Coping  Section I Defining Stress - Stressful stimulus – event external to the human body that provokes a response - Stressful response – a physical or emotional reaction by an individual to the external stimulus - Interaction between stressor – characterized as interplay and feedback - A thorough study of stress must include the stimulus that prompts the response as well as the response, in order to identify an effective strategy to minimize or abate stress - Stress is both a stimulus and a response Three Theories of Stress Cannon’s “Fight-or-Flight” Theory - One way to define stress is the body’s physical or emotional reaction to an external event - “fight or flight” – focuses specifically on the body’s physiological response to stress- inducing stimuli - In response to a stressor, the body’ biological systems (SNS and endocrine) would activate to prepare the body to exhibit a “fight or flight” response to the potential threat - The Nervous System and Stress o Rapid heartbeat, sweating, increase respiration, pupil dilation, dry mouth o Physiological response to stress are initiated by a complex communication process that takes place in the nervous system o The NS consists of the CNS and the PNS o CNS – receiving and responding to info obtained by sensory receptor sites o PNS – consists of Autonomic NS and Somatic NS  ANS is more relevant when describing the body’s response to stress – controls the autonomic and involuntary functions that are essential for living • Consists of sympathetic NS and parasympathetic NS • Sympathetic is responsible for activating the body’s response to danger, emergencies, or foreign microorganisms that invade the body o Protects us from external or internal threats • Parasympathetic takes control once the threat has abated o Responsible for returning the body to its baseline state – allostasis (body’s ability to maintain a “steady state” through changes in both the environment and in the body’s physiology - The Endocrine System o A communication system of the body that sends messages using ductless glands – glands that release hormones directly into the bloodstream o Responsible for responding to stress o Pituitary gland  Adjacent to hypothalamus – region in the brain that controls basic human needs such as sleep, hunger, thirst, and sex  Location of pit. gland suggests that even though the brain is part of the NS, the endocrine system and NS work together when producing and regulating hormones  AKA “master gland”  Produces hormones that stimulate the production of other hormones that play a role in the body’s response to stress • i.e. ACTH – adrenocorticotropic hormone  ACTH stimulates the adrenal gland  Adrenal medulla (inner) produces catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine)  When EPI is released into the system, it stimulates the SNS – reaction is referred to as the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary system (SAM)  Adrenal cortex (outer), hypothalamus, and pit gland  hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenocortical system (HPAC) – responsible for restoring body to baseline state • Stimulation by ACTH  adrenal cortex releases glucocorticoids (anti-inflammatory) Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) - Identification of the pathways through which stress elicits physiological reactions in organisms - Selye contends that the body response in the same manner to any stressor - 3 stages of GAS: o Alarm stage  Body tries and fails to cope with target stressor  Experience shock and initial and immediate impact of stress-inducing agents  Initial response: lowering of body’s BP or body temp  Secondary response: countershock phase – responses characterized by “fight or flight”  Body may release higher levels of adrenaline, increase respiration, BP, and sweating o Stage of resistance  Characterized by body’s increased and sustained resistance to a stress agent  Sustained resistance to one stressor deceases the body’s ability to withstand or defend against other agents o Stage of exhaustion  How long an organism can withstand and defend against a specific stress-inducing agent appears to vary as a function of the individual  Prolonged exposure to stressors can and does cause symptoms similar to those that appear during the alarm stage  In the final stage of exhaustion, organisms will display the nonspecific systemic reactions that were developed during the adaptation stage but that it could not maintain  It is in this stage that the disease of adaptation may form – illnesses that occur as a result of the body’s inability to defend against the specific agent or other stressor Lazarus and Folkman’s Transactional Model of Stress - Believe that we cannot study a person’s response to stress independent of understanding his or her perception of the stress-provoking event - Transactional model – stress is triggered when an external stressor excess a person’s person psychological and social resources to effectively cope with the event - Stress is not a one-time response to a static event – involves a person’s continuous interactions with, and adjustments to, the event - Appraisal Process o Transactions are directed by our cognitive appraisal of the situation – process we use to evaluate the events o Involves:  Primary appraisal – initial assessment of the even and determination of the potential harmfulness  Secondary appraisal – assessment of our resources and determination of how sufficient our resources are to meet the demands of the event  Cognitive reappraisal – reevaluation of the event as it develops - Theory assumes 2 things: o 1. Situations or events are NOT inherently stressful  Stressfulness of the situation depends on our cognitive appraisal of the event  People will interpret situations different based on several different factors – prior experiences, personal skills, level of confidence in addressing stressful events o 2. An individual may appraise the same situation differently based on his or her health, mood, or motivation Section II Stress and Illness Chronic Illness as a Stressful Stimulant - Chronic disease – 3-6 months or longer; can be controlled but not cured - Chronic illnesses require sufferers (and those in close proximity to them) to learned to live with the condition over a protracted period of time - Requires ongoing adjustments to the challenges and threats presented by the disease, including changes in physical and emotional conditions, pain and pain management, and inability to perform normal or expected roles - Uncertainty and inability to control disease progression can create anxiety and tension - Stressors: o Unpredictable disease outcomes o Inability to control disease progression o Rate of deterioration - Prolonged stress can negatively affect health outcomes in anyone – particularly in people with chronic illnesses o Sufferers that report high stress levels or stressful environments show poorer overall health outcomes that people with similar diagnoses - Stress can exacerbate an existing health problem, causing further deterioration in health Stress: A Determinant of Illness - Stressful life experiences can precipitate or cause new physiological illnesses o Stressful events are more likely to cause physical illnesses when a person is vulnerable to such illnesses - Stanley and Burrows: association among stress, illness, and preexisting vulnerabilities - Hunter: proposed that heart ailments could be related to a person’s emotional state or personality o Anxious and argumentative nature (personality) most likely contribute to chest pains Diathesis-Stress (D-S) Model of Disease - Some people are genetically predisposed to illnesses - Model states that an individual’s biochemical or organ imbalances can predetermine that person’s reaction to environmental stressors and can result in physical symptoms of illnesses - Biological/psychological predisposition (diathesis) and an environmental precipitating factor (stressor) are necessary determinants to cause the onset of a stress-related illness o Stressor triggers the diathesis resulting in stress response - Implicated in the development of schizophrenia and depression - Acute stress or chronic stress can stimulate the release of: glucocorticoids, cortisol, and catecholamine - Cortisol – slows body’s response to stress o Elevated levels lead to problems  anxiety and depression, i
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