PSYC 3170 Chapter Notes - Chapter Midterm: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, How Can It Be (Album), Explanatory Style

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Health Psychology Exam 2 Notes
Chapter 6 Stress
What Is Stress?
Stress a negative emotional experience accompanied by predictable
biochemical, physiological, cognitive, and behavioural changes that are
directed either toward altering the stressful event or accommodating to its
effects
What Is a Stressor?
A stressor is stressful event
Person-Environment Fit
Stress is the consequence of a person’s appraisal processes
The assessment of whether personal resources are sufficient to meet the
demands of the environment
Stress is determined by person-environment fit
Stress results from the process of appraising events (as harmful, threatening,
or challenging), of assessing potential responses, and of responding to those
events
What Theories and Models Are Used to Study Stress?
Fight-or-Flight
When an organism perceives a threat, the body is rapidly aroused and
motivated via the sympathetic nervous system and the endocrine system
Attack or flee
Now more commonly fight refers to aggressive responses to stress, whereas
flight may be seen in social withdrawal or withdrawal through substance use
such as alcohol or drugs
Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome
Selye considered father of stress research
Exposed rates to stressors, all created similar physiological response
When an organism confronts a stressor, it mobilizes itself for action
The response is nonspecific in regards to the stressor
Regardless of the threat, responds with the same physiological response
Over time, with repeated or prolonged exposure to stress, there will be wear
and tear on the system
General adaptation syndrome consists of three phases
Alarm: the organism becomes mobilized to meet the threat
Resistance: the organism makes efforts to cope with the threat, as through
confrontation
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Exhaustion: occurs if the organism fails to overcome the threat and depletes
its physiological resources in the process of trying
Assigns limited role to psychological factors, reason to criticize, know that
appraisal plays a major role
Not all stressors produce same effect
Tend-and-Befriend
Animals, human or nonhuman, don’t just fight, flee or become exhausted
Affiliate with each other
Tend-and-befriend theory maintains that in addition to fight-or-flight,
humans respond to stress with social and nurturant behaviour
Especially true for women
Affiliate with others, seek social contact, befriend during times of stress
Psychological Appraisal and the Experience of Stress
In humans, psychological appraisals are an important determinant of
whether an event is responded to as stressful
Primary Appraisal Processes
When individuals confront a new or changing environment, they engage in a
process of primary appraisal to determine the meaning of the event
Events may be perceived as positive, neutral, or negative in their
consequences
Negative events are further appraised for their possible harm, threat, or
challenge
Harm is the assessment of the damage that has already been done by an
event
Threat is the assessment of possible future damage
Challenge is the potential to overcome and event profit from the event
Secondary Appraisal Processes
Secondary appraisal is the assessment of one’s coping abilities and resources
and whether they will be sufficient to meet the harm, threat, and challenge of
the event
Subjective experience of stress is a balance between primary and secondary
appraisal
Harm and threat high, coping ability low, substantial stress is felt
The Physiology of Stress
Stress causes physiological distress and leads to changes in the body that
may have short or long term consequences for health
Two main systems involved
Sympathetic-adrenomedullary (SAM) system and the hypothalamic-
pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis
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Sympathetic Activation
Threatening events labeled by the cerebral cortex, which sets off chain of
reactions
Cortex to hypothalamus, which arouses sympathetic nervous system (fight or
flight)
Sympathetic arousal stimulates the medulla of the adrenal glands, which in
turn secret catecholamines, epinephrine and norepinephrine
HPA Activation
Nonspecific physiological reaction (general adaptation syndrome) occurs in
response to stress and involves three phases of alarm, resistance, and
exhaustion
Hypothalamus stimulates pituitary gland to secret ACTH, which stimulates
adrenal cortex to release glucocorticoids
Cortisol especially significant, conserve stores of carbohydrates and reduce
inflammation in the case of an injury
HPA repeatedly activated leads to altered daily cortisol patterns, usually high
upon wakening and decreases over the day
People under chronic stress show high cortisol levels in the afternoon or
evening
Effects of Long-term Stress
Excessive discharge of epinephrine and norepinephrine can lead to
suppression of immune functions
Increased BP and heart rate
Variations in normal heart rate
Neurochemical imbalances
Prolonged cortisol secretion can lead to problems in verbal functioning,
memory, and concentration
Individual Differences in Stress Reactivity
People vary in their reactivity to stress
Reactivity is the degree of change that occurs in autonomic, neuroendocrine,
and/or immune responses as a result of stress
Some people show very small reactions to stressful circumstances, other
show large responses
May be genetic or develop prenatally or early in life
More reactive to stress, often more vulnerable to disease
Physiological Recovery Processes
Inability to recover quickly from a stressful event may be a marker for the
cumulative damage that stress has caused
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Document Summary

Stress a negative emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological, cognitive, and behavioural changes that are directed either toward altering the stressful event or accommodating to its effects. Stress is the consequence of a person"s appraisal processes. The assessment of whether personal resources are sufficient to meet the demands of the environment. Stress results from the process of appraising events (as harmful, threatening, or challenging), of assessing potential responses, and of responding to those events. When an organism perceives a threat, the body is rapidly aroused and motivated via the sympathetic nervous system and the endocrine system. Now more commonly fight refers to aggressive responses to stress, whereas flight may be seen in social withdrawal or withdrawal through substance use such as alcohol or drugs. Exposed rates to stressors, all created similar physiological response. When an organism confronts a stressor, it mobilizes itself for action. The response is nonspecific in regards to the stressor.

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