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Chapter 15

Chapter 15- Stress, Coping and Health.docx

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Psychology 1000
Laura Fazakas- De Hoog

Chapter 15­ Stress, Coping and Health THE NATURE OF STRESS • Stress is viewed in three different ways: o A stimulus with Stressors- eliciting stimuli/events that place strong demands on us o Response that has cognitive, physiological and behavioural components  The presence of negative emotions is an important feature of the stress response and links the study of stress w/ field of emotion o Organism-environment interaction, as a person-situation interaction, or a transaction b/w organism and environment  From this perspective:  Stress- pattern of cognitive appraisals, physiological responses, and behavioural tendencies that occurs in response to a perceived imbalance b/w situational demands and the resources needed to cope with them STRESSORS • Place demands on us that endanger well-being, can range from microstressors—daily hassles of life, to catastrophic events—occurring unexpectedly and typically affect large numbers of people (natural disasters, acts of war), to major negative events—being the victim of a major crime, sexual abuse, death/loss of loved one, academic/career failure, etc. Measuring Stressful Life Events Life event scales- to quantify the amount of life stress that a person has experienced over a given period of time • Most modern researchers define stress in terms of only negative life changes only (negative changes consistently predict adverse health and behavioural outcomes) THE STRESS RESPONSE Four aspects of appraisal process: 1. Appraisal of demands of situation (primary appraisal) 2. Appraisal of 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—what the outcome may imply about us According to Lazarus, you apply the following to real-life situations: Primary appraisal- the initial appraisal of a situation as benign, irrelevant or threatening; a perception of the severity of demands Secondary appraisal- one’s judgment of the adequacy of personal resources needed to cope with a stressor • Distortions and mistaken appraisals can occur at any of the four points in the appraisal process, causing inappropriate stress responses • Appraisals and physiological responses mutually affect one another • Autonomic and somatic feedback can affect our reappraisals of how stressful a situation is and whether our resources are sufficient to cope with it CHRONIC STRESS AND THE GAS General adaptation syndrome (GAS)- Selye’s description of the body’s responses to a stressor, which includes successive phases of alarm reaction, resistance and exhaustion • “Fight-or-flight” response, includes a rapid increase in physiological arousal. o Alarm reaction occurs b/c of sudden activation of sympathetic nervous system and the release of stress hormones by the endocrine system, leads to an increase in heart rate and respiration, dilates the pupils, slows digestion o The most important hormone, cortisol- 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 • During the stage of resistance, body’s resources can be mobilized so person can function despite the presence of the stressor, however the body’s resources are being depleted, and how long this stage can last depends on the severity of the stress, the individual’s general health, available support, and other factors • During exhaustion, the body’s resources are dangerously depleted, and there is an increased vulnerability to disease, collapse, and death Chapter 15­ Stress, Coping and Health STRESS AND HEALTH • A physical mobilization system sculpted by evolution helped organisms deal with life-threatening physical stressors that may not be as adaptive for dealing with the psychological stressors we face in modern life STRESS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING • In the wake of natural disasters, an average of 17% increase in rates of psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression Rape trauma syndrome- a pattern of cognitive, emotional and behavioural responses that occurs in response to the trauma of being raped • Victims may feel nervous and fear an attack by the rapist, may have nightmares and be frightened when they are alone, outdoors, or in crowds • Victims frequently report decreased enjoyment of sexual activity Neuroticism- a personality trait that involves the tendency to experience high levels of negative affect and to behave in self-defeating ways POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)- a pattern of distressing symptoms such as flasbacks, nightmares, avoidance, and anxiety responses that recur after a traumatic experience • Some individuals show self-destructive and impulsive behaviour • Traumas caused by human perpetrators (war, rape, assault, torture) tend to cause more sever PTSD than do natural disasters • Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men • Likelihood of developing PTSD influenced by victim’s social support, presence of significant childhood stresses, personality factors, coping strategies, and pre-existing psychological conditions • Usually develops within 3 months but can develop much later in other cases • Can increase later vulnerability to other disorders • Post-trauma intervention can help drastically remove the effects of PTSD STRESS AND ILLNESS • Stress can combine with other physical and psychological factors to influence the entire spectrum of physical illness • Linkages b/w long-term stress and illness are not surprising, for physiological responses to stressors can directly harm other body systems • Excessive secretions of stress hormones by adrenal gland can damage the lining of the arteries • Can trigger illness by causing a breakdown in immune system functioning • Can contribute to health breakdown by causing people to behave in ways that increase chances of illness (smoking, alcohol/drug use, sleep los, under/overeating) • Prolonged exposure of the hippocampus to elevated stress hormone levels leads to deterioration of the hippocampus similar to that seen in old animals • Associated w/ memory impairment • Mild stresses early in life may inoculate individual against subsequent stressors SOCIAL SUPPORT • Social isolation is an important vulnerability factor • People w/ weak social ties twice as likely to die • Social support protects against stress by enhancing immune system functioning • People who have high levels of social support are more disease-resistant when they are under stress VULNERABILITY AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS PHYSIOLOGICAL REACTIVITY • People differ widely in the pattern and intensity of their physiological responses (makes people more/less vulnerable to stressors) Chapter 15­ Stress, Coping and Health • People high in neuroticism= more vulnerable to stress than people low with this personality factor Physiological toughness- relations b/w two classes of hormones secreted by the adrenal glands in the face of stress. It consists of: 1. A low resting level of cortisol, low levels of cortisol secretion in response to stressors, and a quick return to baseline level of cortisol after the stress is over 2. A low resting level of catecholamines but a quick and strong catecholamine response when the stressor occurs, followed by a quick decline in catecholamine secretion and arousal when the stressor is over • Two classes of hormones secreted: o Catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine)—these secretions increase immune system functioning o Corticosteroids (cortisol)—last must longer and are more damaging—reduces immune system functioning and helps to create fatty deposits in the arteries that lead to heart disease • Exercise promotes the release of catecholamines which is why physical activity may increase physiological toughness and stress resistance COPING WITH STRESS Problem-focused coping- coping strategies that involve direct attempts to confront and master a stressful situation Emotion-focused coping- coping strategies directed at minimizing or reducing emotional responses to a stressor Seeking social support- a class of coping strategies that involves turning to others for assistance and emotional support in times of stress EFFECTIVENESS OF COPING STRATEGIES • Problem-focused coping methods and seeking social support were associated with favourable adjustment to stressors • Emotion-focused predicted depression or poor adjustment • Physical exercise well
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