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Chapter 15

Chapter 15 Psychology.docx

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Psychology 1000

Chapter 15: Stress, Coping, and Health  Nature of Stress -psychologists view stress in 3 ways: stimulus, response, and organism-environment interaction -stressors (eliciting stimuli or events that place strong demands on us) -response (presence of negative emotions) -organism-environment interaction (stimulus and response combined) -stress (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)  Stressors -the greater imbalance between demands and resources, the more stressful a situation is -microstressors (daily hassles and everyday annoyances) -catastrophic events (natural disasters, war, concentration camp confinement) -major negative events (victims of rape, loss of loved one, academic failure) -life event scales (quantify amount of life stress that a person has experienced over a given period of time)  Stress Response -4 aspects of appraisal process are: 1. Appraisal of demands of situation (primary appraisal) 2. Appraisal of resources available to cope with (secondary appraisal) 3. Judgments of what the consequences of the situation could be 4. Appraisal of the personal meaning, that is, what the outcome might imply about us -primary appraisal begins as you evaluate the situation in terms of its demands and its significance to you -secondary appraisal begins as you find resources available to deal with the situation (i.e. knowledge, verbal skills, social resources) -take into account the personal consequences of failing to cope with the situation (seriousness and likelihood that they will occur) -the psychological meaning may be related to your beliefs about yourself and the world (certain beliefs and standards can make people vulnerable to different types of demands) -distortions and mistaken appraisals can occur at any of the 4 points (i.e. exaggerate consequences, irrational self-beliefs, etc.) -as soon as appraisals are made, the body responses to them  Chronic Stress and GAS -general adaptation syndrome (GAS) (physiological response pattern to strong and prolonged stressors; has 3 phases which include alarm reaction, resistance, and exhaustion) -alarm reaction occurs because of the sudden activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the release of stress hormones by the endocrine system; helps body deal with the source of stress; cortisol is released (suppresses inflammation so that injured tissues do not swell; increases blood sugar and suppresses the immune system) -resistance occurs as the body’s resources continue to be mobilized so that that the person can function in the presence of the stressor; can last for a very long time and depends on the severity of stress, general health, and social support; adrenal glands release epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol to maintain increased arousal -exhaustion occurs as the body’s resources ate dangerously depleted and stress-related illness occurs; the adrenal glands lose their ability to function properly  Stress and Health -effects of stress on psychological well-being are clearest among people who have experienced a catastrophic life event -rape trauma syndrome (victims of rape feel nervous and may fear another attack by the rapist) -the more negative life events people report, the more likely they are to report symptoms of psychological distress; “stress causes distress” -neuroticism (tendency to experience negative emotions and to get themselves into stressful situations through their maladaptive behaviours)  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder -severe anxiety disorder that is caused by traumatic life events with 4 major groups: 1. Severe anxiety, physiological arousal (stress response), and distress 2. Painful uncontrollable reliving of the event in flashbacks, dreams, and fantasies 3. Emotional mumbling and avoidance of stimuli associated with trauma 4. Intense “survivor guilt” where others were killed but the individual survived  Stress and Illness -stress can combine with other physical factors to influence and cause the common cold, heart disease, cancer, etc. -traumatic life event can worsen an already existing medical condition -stress can trigger illness by causing a breakdown of the immune system -the secretion of cortisol is significant; if stress prolongs, the exposure of the hippocampus to prolonged elevations of stress-related hormones can cause deterioration of the hippocampus and memory impairment -stress can contribute to health breakdown by causing people to behave in ways that increase the risk of illness (i.e. to stop exercising when under stress, even though the reason for starting to exercise was to reduce stress)  Vulnerability and Protective Factors -vulnerability factors (increase susceptibility to stressful events; include lack of support, poor coping skills, tendencies to become anxious/pessimistic, etc.) -protective factors (environmental/personal resources that help people cope more effectively with stressful events; includes social support, coping skills, and personality factors (i.e. optimism))  Social Support -one of the most important environmental resources; helps ease the impact of stress -enhances immune system functioning -why such a strong factor? It is because people who feel that they are a part of a social system experience a greater sense of meaning and identity in their lives and results in a greater psychological well-being  Neuroscience of Social Support -can affect our reaction to stressors in 2 ways: 1. May limit the impact of a potential threat even before when generate a stress response 2. Could alleviate the impact of stress after an event has been appraised as stressful and a stress response activated by blunting the stress response or allowing more effective recovery after the stressor is over -different brain areas affected: 1. Amygdala (involved in appraising and mediating the response to threats and connects to hypothalamus that active HPA axis and lead to release of stress hormones) 2. Anterior cingulated cortex (ACC) (involved in aversive experiences, such as reactions to social exclusion and anxiety) 3. Prefrontal Cortex (regulate emotions and suppress negative emotions; shuts down HPA axis and the hormonal stress response)  Cognitive Protective Factors: Importance of Beliefs -hardiness (stress-resistant personality pattern that involves the factors of commitment, control, and challenge); hardy people are committed to their work, families, and believe that what they are doing is important; appraise demands of a situation as challenges/opportunities, rather than threats; more control results in a less likely chance of illness in the future -coping self efficacy (conviction that we can perform the behaviours necessary to cope successfully) -optimism (positive attitude = less stress and less likely for future illness); pessimism are at greater risk due to negative attitudes and more likely to develop illness and may die at a younger age  Personality Factors 1. Type A – live under great pressure and are more demanding of themselves and others; characterized by high levels of competitiveness and ambition, as well as aggression and hostility when things do not go their way; increased vulnerability to coronary heart disease; overreact physiologically to events that arouse anger 2. Type B – more relaxed, agreeable, and have far less sense of time urgency 3. Type C – highly sociable and nice and very inhibited in expressing negative emotions; tendency to bottle up feelings (i.e. anxiety and anger) and seems to get in the way of coping and feel helpless and hopeless in stressful situations; risk factor for cancer  Finding Meaning in Stressful Life Events -people find personal meaning through spiritual belief, which can be a comfort in times of crisis -finding a sense of meaning from own way of coping with the loss had longer term positive effects -religious beliefs can increase stress (i.e. viewing God as punishing you) or decrease stress (positive affects with certain stressors)  Physiological Reactivity -physiological toughness (strong stress hormone pattern) involves relations between two classes of hormones secreted by the adrenal glands -catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine) and corticosteriouds (cortisol) mobilizes the body’s fight-or-flight response, but have different effects -cortisol can be damaging and reduces immune system functioning, while catcholamies increase immune system functioning -consists of 1) 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; and 2) low resting level of catecholamines, but a quick and strong response when the stressor occurs, followed by a quick decl
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