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PSYCH 1100 Chapter Notes -Biofeedback, Dieting, Adrenocorticotropic Hormone

Course Code
PSYCH 1100

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Stress & Health 10/13/2014
What is Stress?
Stress: physical and psychological response to internal or external stressors
Stressors: specific events or chronic pressures that place demands on a person or threaten their well-being
Sources of Stress
Acute Stressors: Specific events that produce stress; have a defined beginning, middle, and end; can be
both positive and negative
Why aren’t I sick after all positive and highly stressful events?
McFarlane et al., 1980: Positive life events = less psychological distress and fewer physical symptoms
Fredrickson, 2000: Happiness can counteract the effects of negative events.
Basically, the positive events and the happiness they provide make up for the stress (i.e. weddings, parties,
graduating, etc.)
Chronic Stressor
Sources of stress that occur continuously or repeatedly
i.e. bad bosses, relationship problems, rush-hour traffic, poor healthcare, discrimination
Related to greater psychological and physical symptions compared to acute stressors
Cohen et al., 1980
Examined impact of chronic environmental stress on children’s academic performance.
Controlled for race/ethnicity and SES
Children who attended schools next to LAX had higher blood pressure and gave up more easily on
challenging problems
Sources of Stress: Perceived Control
Our interpretation of events and our perception of control over stress are important
Lack of perceived control – stress

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Is Stress Always Bad?
Stress Reactions
Fight-or-Flight Response
An emotional or physiological reaction to an emergency that increases readiness for actions
“Fight or Flight” and the HPA Axis – Figure 16.1 in Book
After you perceive a threatening stimulation or fearful stimulus, the hypothalamus activated the pituitary
gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) The ACTH then travels through the bloodstream to
activate the adrenal glands to release catecholamines and cortisol, which energize the fight or flight
Sympatheric Nervous System is activated: Heart Rate…..
What if it’s chronic?
General Adaptation Syndrome – three stage physiological stress response that appears regardless of the
stressor that is encountered
It’s non-specific – the response does not vary, no matter the source of the repeated stress
Alarm – resistance – reaction
Stress Reactions
Stage 1: Alarm Reaction
Excitement of Sympathetic Nervous System
Stage 2: Resistance
Body adapts to high levels of arousal
Unnecessary functions put on hold
Stage 3: Exhaustion
Prolonged or uncoltrolled stressors
Can lead to numerous health issues

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“resistance phase” processes lead to gradual damage
Health Psychology
Studies ways in which psychological factors influence the causes and treatment of…
Subspecialty of health psychology which studies relationships between….
Stress and the Immune Stystem
Stress impacts the immune system:
Immune system:
Protects the body from bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances
Includes lymphocytes: white blood cells that fight infection
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