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Chapter 15

Chapter 15 - Stress, Health and Coping

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Western University
Psychology 1000
Terry Biggs

Chapter 15 Stress Coping and Health The Nature of StressPsychologists have viewed stress in three different ways as a stimulus a response and an organismenvironment interactionSome define stress in terms of eliciting stimuli or events that place strong demands on usthese situations are termed stressorsStress has also been viewed as a response that has cognitive physiological and behavioural components A third way of viewing stress is as a personsituation interactionstress 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 themStressorsSpecific kinds of eliciting stimuliPlace demands on us that endanger wellbeing requiring us to adapt in some manner Can range in severity from microstressors daily hassles and everyday annoyances we encounter at school work or in family relations to very severe stressors Catastrophic events often occur unexpectedly and typically affect large numbers of peoplenatural disasters acts of war concentration camp confinement etc Major negative events also require major adaptationvictims of crime or sexual abuse death or loss of a loved one academic or career failure major illness etc To study linkages between life events and wellbeing researchers use life event scales to quantify the amount of life stress that a person has experienced over a given period of timeThe Stress ResponseStarting point for the stress response is our appraisal of the situation and its implicationsthere are four aspects of the appraisal processPrimary appraisalappraisal of the demands of the situation Secondary appraisalappraisal of the resources available to cope with itJudgments of what the consequences of the situation could beAppraisal of the personal meaning that is what the outcome might imply about usChronic Stress and the GasGeneral adaptation syndrome GASHans Selyes description of the bodys responses to a stressor which includes successive phases of alarm reaction resistance and exhaustion In response to a physical or psychological stressor animals exhibit a rapid increase in physiological arousalthis alarm reaction occurs because of the sudden activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the release of stress hormones by the endocrine system There is also an endocrine or hormonal stress responsethe adrenal glands produce a number of different hormones but during a period of stress the most important is cortisol which triggers an increase in blood sugars by acting on the liver
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