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Chapter 13

Chapter 13 _ Stress, Coping and Health.docx

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Carolyn Ensley

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Chapter 13 – Stress, Coping and Health Biopsychosocial Model: physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors Health Psychology: concerned w/ how psychosocial factors relate to the promotion and maintenance of health and with the causation, prevention, and treatment of illness The Nature of Stress Stress: any circumstances that threaten or are perceived to threaten one’s well-being and that thereby tax one’s coping abilities Stress as an Everyday Event -minor nuisances are an important form of stress -a major stressful event can trigger a cascade of minor stressors -an individual’s response to a stressor is a function of a number of factors – anisman and merali -including type of stressor, its controllability, biological factors, and previous experience Appraisal: Stress Lies in the Eye of the Beholder -feeling stressed depends on what events a person notices and how one chooses to appraise them -studies have shown that more anxious neurotic people report more stress than others -the Stress Appraisal Measure can be used to assess individual differences in stress Major Types of Stress Acute Stressors: threatening events that have a relatively short duration and a clear endpoint Chronic Stressors: threatening events that have a relatively long duration and no readily apparent time limit Frustration Frustration: occurs in any situation where the pursuit of some goal is thwarted -when you want something you can’t have -ex. traffic jams, difficult daily commutes, annoying drivers -most frustrations are brief and insignificant -but failures and losses are two common kinds of frustration that are often highly stressful Conflict Conflict: occurs when two or more incompatible motivations or behavioural impulses compete for expression -higher levels of inner conflict were associated w/ higher levels of anxiety, depression, and physical symptoms -3 types of conflict: approach-approach, avoidance-avoidance, and approach-avoidance Approach-Approach Conflict: a choice must be made between two attractive goals -tends to be the least stressful – alright with either choice -but sometimes stressful b/c choosing one represents the loss of the other Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict: a choice must be made between two unattractive goals -highly stressful choices Approach-Avoidance Conflict: a choice must be made about whether to pursue a single goal that has both attractive and unattractive aspects -can be quite stressful -often produce vacillation – you go back and forth, and have indecision Change Life Changes: any noticeable alterations in one’s living circumstances that require readjustment -changes in relationships, at work, in finances etc. can be stressful even when the changes are welcomed -the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) measures life change as a form of stress Pressure Pressure: expectations or demands that one behave in a certain way -ex. under pressure to preform -pressure turned out to be more related to measures of mental health than the SRRS is -pressure is often self-imposed Responding to Stress -stress affects an individual’s emotional, physiological, and behavioural responses to stress Emotional Responses -there is a big relationship between stress and mood on a daily basis Emotions Commonly Elicited -researchers have begun to uncover some strong links between specific cognitive reactions to stress (appraisals) and specific emotions -emotional responses to stress tend to include: a) annoyance, anger and rage, b) apprehension, anxiety and fear, and c) dejection, sadness and grief -positive emotions promote resilience in the face of stress -the broaden and build theory of positive emotions -positive emotions can alter a person’s mindset, and help build social interactions -studies have found associations between positive emotion and lower levels of stress hormones -also, a positive emotional style is associated w/ an enhanced immune response Effects of Emotional Arousal -strong emotional arousal can also interfere with efforts to cope with stress -task performance should improve with increased emotional arousal, up to a point -after which, further increases in arousal become disruptive and performance decreases -called inverted U hypothesis -as a task becomes more complex, the optimal level of arousal tends to decrease Physiological Responses The Fight-or-Flight Response -a physiological reaction to threat in which the autonomic nervous system mobilizes the organism for fighting or fleeing -mediated by the sympathetic A NS -in females, fight or flight is less adaptive b/c it may result in harming her offspring -so they have fostered a ‘tend and befriend’ response in females -in reacting to stress, females allocate more effort to the care of offspring and to seeking help and support -but the basic neuroendocrine core of stress responses is the same for males and females The General Adaptation Syndrome -concept of stress was identified and named by Hans Selye -found that stress reactions are non-specific -reactions don’t vary depending on the type of stress encountered General Adaptation Syndrome: a model of the body’s stress response, consisting of three stages: alarm, resistance and exhaustion -an alarm reaction occurs when an organism first recognizes the existence of a threat -physiological arousal occurs -alarm reaction is essentially the fight or flight response -in resistance stage, physiological changes stabilize as coping efforts get under way -physiological arousal continues to be higher than normal, but it may level off as the animal becomes accustomed to the threat -if stress continues, it enters the stage of exhaustion -the body’s resources become depleted, and the organism would experience hormonal exhaustion -these harmful effects can lead to ‘diseases of adaptation’ Brain-Body Pathways -there are 2 major pathways along which the brain sends signals to the endocrine system in response to stress -the 1 pathway is routed through the autonomic NS -in response to stress, your hypothalamus activates the sympathetic part of the ANS -stimulates adrenal glands to release catecholamines into bloodstream -heart rate and blood flow increase, respiration and oxygen consumption speed up, digestive processes are inhibited to conserve energy, pupils dilate so u can see better -the 2 pathway involves more direct communication between the brain and endocrine system -hypothalamus sends signals to pituitary gland, which secretes ACTH -this stimulates adrenal glands to release corticosteroids -they stimulate the release of chemicals that help increase energy and inhibit tissue inflammation in case of injury -new info shows that stress can interfere with neurogenesis -neurogenesis appears to enhance learning and memory Behavioural Responses Coping: active efforts to master, reduce, or tolerate the demands created by stress -may be adaptive or maladaptive -here are some of the most common coping strategies: Giving Up and Blaming Yourself -when confronted with stress, people sometimes simply give up and withdraw Learned Helplessness: passive behaviour produced by exposure to unavoidable aversive events -occurs when people come to believe that events are beyond their control -blaming yourself is called ‘catastrophic thinking’ -it causes, aggravates, and perpetuates emotional reactions to stress that are often problematic -excessive self-blame can be very unhealthy Striking Out at Others Aggression: any behaviour that is intended to hurt someone, either physically or verbally -proposed the frustration-aggression hypothesis, which says that aggression is always caused by frustration -when people are provoked, displaced aggression is a common response Catharsis: the release of emotional tension (Freud) -but research indicates that aggressive behaviour does not reliably lead to catharsis -interpersonal conflicts that emerge from aggressive behaviour may increase rather than relieve stress -b/c ur adding more stress by fighting Indulging Oneself -stress sometimes leads to reduced
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