Stress

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  • Stress
    • The Body's Response to Stress
      • Sympathomedullary Pathway (Short Term Stress)
        • The Hypothalamus detects stress, arouses the Automatic Nervous System, causing the Adrenal Medulla to stimulate the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline. The Parasympathetic Branch returns the body to normal.
      • The Pituitary-Adrenal System (Chronic Stress)
        • The Hypothalamus stimulates the release of corticotropin-releasing factor, which travels to the pituitary gland and secretes ACTH, which travels to the Adrenal Cortex, which secretes Cortisol.
          • Cortisol maintains a steady supply of blood sugar for continued energy, which enables the body to cope with the stressor.
      • Skin Conductance Response
        • SCR measures an individual's resistance to electricity--when an individual is stressed they produce more sweat, which conducts electricity. Therefore individuals have a higher SCR when stressed compared to non-stressed.
          • Villajero et al found that SCR was able to measure individual's stress to a degree of 76.5% accuracy.
          • Khalfa et al found that when different kinds of music was played for ppts. the highest SCR reading were for happiness and fear. This suggests SCR can't differentiate between certain emotions.
    • General Adaptation Syndrome
      • Stage 1 (Alarm Reaction):A stressor is detected and a response is made, the sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal medulla to release adrenaline and noradrenaline. and the body is in a fight or flight state.
        • Stage 2 (Resistance): If the stressor continues it is necessary for the body to find a way of coping with it. The body is adapting to the demands of the environment, however the body's resources are gradually being depleted. Levels of cortisol are increased in the blood, however physiologically the body is deteriorating.
          • Stage 3 (Exhaustion): The body's resources are depleted and the adrenal glands may be damaged, this may result in stress related illness.
      • Evaluation
        • Timio et Al found nuns had lower blood pressure than normal working women.
        • Ignores individual differences such as amount of stress hormones.
        • Much of the research was animal research on rats, there is therefore difficulty generalising the findings to humans.
    • Immunosupresion
      • When stress reduces the immune system's ability to fight of antigens, making the risk of infection greater. The constant production of cortisol can reduce the immune system's ability to produce antibodies.
        • A meta-analysis by Segerstrom and Miller found that short term stress increased the body's ability to fight infection, unlike chronic stress.
      • Kiecolt -Glaser et Al (1984) was a natural experiment involving 75 medical students. Immune system functioning was assessed once one month before exams and again during exams; it was found that T-blood cell count was significantly reduced in the second condition.
        • Further research by Kiecolt-Glaser found chronically stressed women's wounds healed significantly lower than the control group.
      • There are also individual differences, especially with gender and personality.
    • Cardiovascular Disorders
      • Stress can also result in cardiovascular disorders such as hardened arteries and high blood pressure.
        • Direct Effects: The secretion of adrenaline results in increased heart rate, which puts strain on the heart and increased blood pressure which can cause blood clots, which may result in heart attack.
        • Indirect effects include smoking, alcohol consumption and poor diet.
      • Williams et Al had ppts. fill out a 10 point anger scale, it was found that those who were high on the scale were 2.5 times more likely to have a heart attack than those on the low end of the scale.
        • It is difficult to establish a cause-effect as there are many other affecting variables in the development of cardiovascular disorders.
        • There are also individual differences such as personality, age and gender.
    • Sources of Stress
      • Life Events
        • Holmes and Rahe (1967) Developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale to assess life events
          • Rahe et Al (1970) gave American Sailors the SRRS, and for the following months detailed records of each sailor's health were kept, there was found to be a small positive correlation between life events and stress related illness.
          • Evaluation
            • The Research in correlational, so causation cannot be established.
            • The sample size was biased, culturally and gender-wise.
            • Doesn't take into account individual differences such as gender, personality etc.
      • Daily Hassles and Uplifts
        • Daily hassles are the relatively minor frustrations and annoyances of everyday life, that have a fairly short-lived emotional effect. Uplifts are the positive events that occur during the course of the day.
          • Research has found Hassles to be a better predictor of well being than life events.
          • AccumulationEffect: Hassles accumulate to create persistent irritation and frustration, resulting in more serious stress reactions such as stress or anxiety.
            • Amplification Effect: If somebody has experienced a life event, they may be more vulnerable to hassles.
          • Miller et Al found there are gender differences in what constitutes a hassle--for example women tend to think pets are uplifts whereas men think they're a hassle.
          • Self Report Measure and Correlational
      • The Workplace
        • Workplace stress is the stress an individual may experience due to pressures and stressors at work. It may be due to lack of control or workload.
        • Johansson et Al found that finishers, a high stress group, had a greater chance of stress-related illness compared to the group of cleaners, a low stress group.
        • Marmot et Al found civil servants with less job control had more stress-related illness than those with high job control.
        • Evaluation
          • Difficult to isolate specific workplace stressors.
          • Correlational + Ignores individual differences such as personality.
    • The Role of Personality
      • Type A: Competitive and Self-Critical       Type B: Easy-going, not easily stressed  Type C: Introverted, Perfectionist and Stress Prone
        • Freidman and Rosenhan did a longitudinal study on Type A and B individuals; it was found that 70% of those who developed CHD were Type A personalities,suggesting Type A behaviour increases the risk of cardiovascular Disease.
        • Research has found that Type C individuals are more prone to cancer.
      • Hardy Personality: Control, Commitment and Challenge
        • Research has found that individuals who undergo hardiness training have reduced blood pressure and felt less stressed after undergoing to training.
    • Treatments for Stress

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