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15 - Stress, Coping and Health.docx

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Psychology 1000

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Chapter 15 Stress, Coping and Health The Nature of stress  Stress in 3 different ways o Eliciting stimuli or events (stressors) that place among demands on us o Response that have cognitive, physiological and behavioural components o Person-situation interaction or transaction between organisms and environment  Stress is a pattern of cognitive appraisals, physiological responses and behavioural tendencies that occurs in response to a perceived imbalance between situational demands and the resources needed to cope with them  Situation demands/resources; stressor characteristics  cognitive appraisal  physiological responses  coping Stressors  Stimuli that place demands on us that endanger us and require us to adapt  Sympathetic nervous system’s adrenal medulla epinephrine sense stressor and signal hypothalamus Measuring Stressful Life Events  Amount of life stress, type of appraisal, intensity, predictability, controllability experienced over duration of time The Stress Response  Starting point of stress is how we appraise the situation  Primary appraisal of the demands of the benign, neutral/irrelevant situation  Secondary appraisal of the resources available to cope with it e.g. knowledge, abilities, supportive peers  Judgements of what the potential consequences of the situations could be  Appraisal of the personal meaning (what the outcome might imply about us) o Basic beliefs about yourself or the world (how much does this situation mean to you)  Distortions and mistaken appraisals can occur causing inappropriate stress o Overestimate situation and occurrence, underestimate resource or irrational self-beliefs  As soon as we make appraisals, autonomic and somatic feedback respond and they affect each other Chronic Stress and the Gas  General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS): physiological response pattern to strong and prolonged stressors  Alarm reaction – sudden activation of sympathetic nervous system to activate muscles (more oxygen) , organs (pupil dilation to enhance vision), glands and release stress hormones o Perception of threat from hypothalamus  pituitary glands  adrenal glands  hormones o Cortisol similar to epinephrine, by converting protein to glucose and making fats available for energy  Suppresses immune system by releasing glucocorticoids that suppress white blood cells  Cortisone  cortisol to treat inflammation, arthritis  Too much will causes depression and anxiety disorders o Parasympathetic nervous system reduces arousal to maintain homeostasis  Resistance – body’s resources continue to be mobilized so person can function under stress o The length of this stage depends on the severity of the stress, health and available support o Increase heart rate, respiration, suppression of digestion, immune system, change in blood sugar levels o Eventually exhaust body  Exhaustion – body’s resources are seriously depleted o Increase vulnerability to disease and even death o Severity of stress, ability to cope and health are factors that can lead to exhaustion faster o Selye – whichever system of the body is weakest, it will be the first to be affected during exhaustion  E.g. maturation, genetic, experimental weak (cardiovascular breakdown), immune weak (diseases) 2 Stress and health Stress and Psychological Well-Being  (Negative life event ↔ psychological distress (e.g. depression))  possible third factor e.g. neuroticism o High in neuroticism = heightened tendency to experience negative emotions and stressful situations  Stressful life events can function as both cause and effect Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  Severe anxiety disorder that is caused by exposure to traumatic life events  Symptoms o Severe anxiety, physiological arousal (the stress response) and distress o Painful, uncontrollable reliving of the event(s) in flashbacks, dreams and fantasies o Emotional numbing and avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma o Intense “survivor guilt” in instances where others were killed but the individual survived  Women were more likely to develop PTSD than men  PSTD does not always develop immediately after the trauma  PTSD can increase vulnerability to other disorder e.g. alcohol related problems Stress and Illness  Sometimes the effects are intermediate e.g. heart attack  Long term illness – arthritis, rheumatism, bronchitis, emphysema, stomach or intestinal ulcers o Men – risk of heart disease o Women – risk of asthma and migraines  Long term stress o Reduced fat metabolism lets excessive hormones block, damage arteries to causes heart attacks, strokes o Breakdown of immune system o Too much cortisol stress hormone causes hippocampus (learning and memory) to deteriorate  Mild early life stress strengthens emotional, cognitive and hormonal resistance to stressors later in life o Maternal behaviour affects early life stress  Childhood abuse interferes hippocampus ability to control the stress response and associated with suicide Vulnerability and Protective Factors  Vulnerability Factors: increase exposure to stressful events, lack support, poor coping skills, anxious, pessimistic  Protective Factors: environmental, personal resources to help cope (support, coping skills, personality, optimism) Social Support  Knowing we can rely on others for help and support in a time of crisis to have feelings of control over stressors  Social isolation is a vulnerability factor stronger in men  Social support enhances immune system functioning, sense of identity and meaning, reduce loneliness The Neuroscience of Social Support  Good social support = live longer, healthier, happier  Bad social support = smoking, obesity, high blood pressure  Social support alter our reaction to potential stressors o Limit the impact of a potential threat (less threatening) before and after we generate a stress response o Allow both a more benign appraisal of one’s life and ability to recover more effectively once stressed  Amygdala involved in appraising and mediating responses to threats o Connect with hypothalamus that activate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to release stress hormones  Areas within anterior cingulate cortex involved in aversive experiences such as reactions to social exclusion o Most distressed, greater the activity 3  Social support helps change brain areas that regulate and control the stress response once it is activated  Prefrontal cortex help regulate emotionality and supress negative emotions o Powerful negative feedback control to shut down HPA axis once a stressor is over  Negative correlation between amount of cortisol released and earlier social support  Good social support perceive life as less threatening, less activation and less cortisol o No region of brain was more active o Decreasing our sensitivity to potential social stressor Cognitive Protective Factors: The Importance of Beliefs Hardiness  Are Committed – believe what they are doing is important  Have Control – having control over themselves (strongest effect)  Challenge (positive appraisal) – appraise demands of situations as challenges/opportunities and not as threats Coping Self-efficacy  Conviction that we can perform the behaviour necessary to cope successfully  Previous successes in similar situations or watching others cope effectively increase efficacy, failures undermine it  Low level of physiological arousal due to stressor can convey a sense of strength and ability to cope Optimism  Appraise themselves as being less helpless in face of stress and adjusted better to negative events (better health)  Pessimism increases vulnerability to disease and death Personality Factor  Type A people tend to live under great pressure and are demanding of themselves and others o Rapid talking, moving, walking, eating, exaggerated urgency and become irritated at delays or failures o High levels of competitiveness and ambition, aggressiveness and hostility o Emotions lead to increase vulnerability to coronary heart disease, alienate others, produce conflicts  Type B are more relaxed, agreeable, less sense of time urgency  Conscientious people were less likely to engage in risky behaviours and less likely to die Finding Meaning in Stressful Life Events  Religious beliefs can either decrease or increase stress o View God as punishing and cause guilt or help finding personal meanings through spiritual beliefs Physiological Reactivity  Relations between hormones secreted by adrenal glands in stress  Catecholamines – epinephrine and norepinephrine increases immune system functioning  Corticosteroids – cortisol reduce immune system functioning o Last much longer and more damaging by creating fatty deposits in arteries  Physiological toug
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