Psychology Chapter 15 Notes (Stress, Coping, and Health)
The Nature of Stress
Stress is a pattern of cognitive appraisals, physiological responses, and behavioural tendencies
that occur in response to perceive imbalance between situational demands and the resources
needed to cope with them or a pattern of physiological, biological, emotional and cognitive
response to real or imagined stimuli that are perceived as blocking a goal or endangering our
Stressors are situations that place demands on organisms that tax or exceed their resources
o They are intervening factors that cause stress reactions.
Such include catastrophes, life changes and hassles.
o Intervening factors then cause stress reactions
Such include physiological, emotion and behavioural changes.
o The synaptic nervous system activates the adrenal medulla which releases epinephrine.
o Another signal stimulates the hypothalamus, which activates the anterior pituitary,
which in turn activates the adrenal cortex and tells the body to release glucocorticoids.
Stressors can range from microstressors to very severe stressors.
Life event are questionnaires that measure the number (and sometimes, the intensity) of
positive and negative life events that have occurred over a specific period of time.
A primary appraisal is the initial appraisal of a situation as benign, irrelevant, or threatening; a
perception of the severity of demands
A secondary appraisal is one’s judgement of the adequacy of personal resources needed to cope
with a stressor.
General adaptation syndrome is Selye’s description of the body’s responses to a stressor, which
include successive phrases of alarm reaction, resistance, and exhaustion.
Cortisol is a hormone produced during a period of stress that triggers an increase in blood
sugars, which is then provided to the skeletal muscles along with additional oxygen; also
suppresses the immune system.
o The effects of cortisol are similar to epinephrine.
o Cortisol converts proteins to glucose
o It makes fats available for energy
o Blood flow is increased
o Almost every cell in the body has a surface receptor for glucocorticoids
Stress can supress the immune system, making a person more vulnerable
o Results in the release of glucocorticoids
Suppresses action of white blood cells
Rats faced with inescapable shock showed a decrease in lymphocyte production
Husbands show decreased immune response after wife’s death
People are more likely to get sick a few days after exposure to stressful event
Acute infectious disorders increased during final exams o The reactions are dependent on the appraisal of the stressor
If the situation is one where it is a threat and the individual cannot cope,
Stress may incur psychosomatic disorders, which are disorders that have primary physical
symptoms, but are caused or maintained by psychological factors, so example: hypertension.
A gastric ulcer is a painful lesion of the stomach lining, and more than 500 thousand new cases
appear per year.
o They are linked to living in a stressful environment, but are not linked to stress alone.
Stress and Health
Anxiety is defined as ‘negative emotion experiences as an uncomfortable level of
apprehension/fear; marked by physiological arousal, doubt concerning the source of threat and
self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
o General symptoms includes:
Avoidance/ escape behaviour
Interference/ restriction in daily routine, occupational or social functioning
Anxiety disorders include:
o Panic attacks; panic disorders
o Phobic disorders
o Obsessive compulsive disorders
o Post-traumatic stress disorders
Rape trauma syndrome is a pattern of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural responses that
occurs in response to the trauma of being ra