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Chapter 15

Chapter 15 Notes

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Psychology 1000

CHAPTER 15: STRESS, COPING, AND HEALTH > THE NATURE OF STRESS - Stress is viewed by psychologists as: o a stimulus that causes us to feel stressed o a response to the stimulus o a organism-environment interaction (responses based on a perceived imbalance between situational demands and the resources needed to cope) - Stress: a pattern of cognitive appraisals, physiological responses, and behavioural tendencies that occurs in response to an imbalance between situational demands and coping resources - Stressors: events that place strong demands on us and require us to adapt in some way Stressors - Microstressors: the daily hassles and everyday annoyances (school, job, family) - Catastrophic events: natural disasters, war, etc. - Major negative events: victim of a crime, death of a loved one, etc. Measuring Stressful Life Events - Life-event scales: quantify the amount of life stress that a person has experienced over a given period of time - indicate whether a particular event occurred and their appraisal of if it was positive or negative and if it was a major event or just everyday event The Stress Response - 4 aspects of the stress appraisal process: 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 or what the outcome implies about us - Primary appraisal: is the situation benign, neutral/irrelevant, or threatening, and its significance for your well-being - Secondary appraisal: perceived ability to cope with the situation and the resources to deal with it (knowledge, verbal skills, social resources, etc.) - overestimation of seriousness, underestimating resources, exaggeration of consequence increase stress Chronic Stress and the GAS - Hans Selye described a physiological response pattern to strong and prolonged stressors general adaptation syndrome (GAS) Phases: - Alarm reaction: sudden activation of the sympathetic nervous system and release of stress hormones by the endocrine system o cortisol triggers an increase in blood sugars/suppresses immune system - Resistance: bodys resources continue to be mobilized so a person can still function in the presence of the stressor (can last as long as resources remain) - Exhaustion: bodys resources are dangerously depleted increasing vulnerability to diseases, collapse, and even death o Weakest system in your body will go first (immune system, heart, etc) > STRESS AND HEALTH Stress and Psychological Well-Being - some stressors are so traumatic that they have a long-lasting psychological impact o eg, Holocaust survivors, war veterans - rape trauma syndrome: months, even years after the rape victims are nervous and may fear another attack o decreased enjoyment of sexual activity o nightmares and a fear of being alone - the more negative life events people report the more likely they are also to report symptoms of psychological distress - stress causes distress or distress causes stress? - Psychological distress also might cause more negative events to occur in peoples lives because of their own behaviour - Neuroticism: a heightened tendency to experience negative emotions and to get themselves into stressful situations Stress and Illness - stress can combine with physical and psychological factors to influence the entire spectrum of physical illness (cold, cancer, diabetes, etc.) - widowers and widows show a higher mortality rate following the death of a spouse - Stats Canada: adults who experience high stress are at risk of dev. chronic health conditions (eg. Arthritis, rheumatism, bronchitis or emphysema) o Men heart disease o Women asthma and migraines - Life stress can decrease immune function, worsen pre-existing medical conditions, and increase the risk of death and illness - Excess secretions of stress hormones by the adrenal gland can affect the activity of the heart and damage the lining of arteries, and cause heart attacks and strokes by contributing to build up of fats in arteries - Exposure of the hippocampus to prolonged stress hormones causes deterioration of the hippocampus, resulting in memory impairment > VULNERABILITY AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS - Vulnerability factors: increase ppls susceptibility to stressful events lack of support network, poor coping skills, pessimism - Protective factors: environmental or personal resources that help people cope more effectively with stressful events (social support, optimism, etc.) Social Support - knowing we can rely on others for help in times of crisis helps blunt impact of stress - found people with weak social ties are twice as likely to die during the 12 year study - social support increases immune system functioning - emotional purging (having someone to talk to) those who had purged themselves of negative emotions showed enhance immune functioning Cognitive Protective Factors: The Importance of Beliefs Hardiness - three Cs of hardiness: commitment, control, challenge- Hardy people are committed to their work, family, and believe what they do is important - View themselves as having control over their outcomes - View the demands of a situation as a challenge rather than a threat Coping Self-Efficacy - Coping self-efficacy: the conviction that we can perform the behaviours necessary to cope successfully (if we believe we can overcome a situation the stress level is reduced) - can come from watching others successfully cope w/ stressors, or through encouragement Optimism - having a rosy view of the future, in the long run things will work out - lower risk of anxiety and depression, and live longer Finding Meaning in Stressful Life Events - religious beliefs can help cope with stress, or be a disadvantage if patients view god as pushing them, or expressed anger towards god, clergy, etc Physiological Reactivity - differences in physiological responses make people more or less vulnerable to stressors - high neuroticism have prolonged autonomic responses and are more vulnerable to stress - physiological toughness: a stress hormone pattern involving a relation between two classes of hormones in the adrenal glands (catecholamines and corticosteroids) o cortisol arousal effects last longer and are more damaging than those produced by catecholamines o cortisol reduces immune syst
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