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Biological Psychology: Stress
Stress is bodily response:
The body's response to stress, including the pituitary-adrenal system and the
sympathomedullary pathway in outline.
Stress is a response to stressors. Stress arises when the individual feels the demands of
their situation are more than their resources can cope with.
A stressor can be anything, a situation that can cause the stress response, for example
exams.…read more

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This is the Sympathetic adrenal medullary This is the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal
system. axis.
It produces the immediate shock response. It helps the body to recover after stress but
may also have negative effects.
The stressor acts on the hypothalamus The hypothalamus stimulates the release
which activates the adrenal medulla and of the ACTH (Andrenocorticotrophic
the sympathetic Autonomic Nervous hormone) from the pituitary gland into the
System (ANS). blood stream.
Adrenalin and noradrenalin are released.…read more

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To save energy.
These two functions are represented by what are called branches.
Sympathetic Parasympathetic
Activates organs in times when needing Involved when the body is trying to store
energy or arousal- `Fight or Flight'. resources.
Heart rate and blood pressure return to
normal and digestion speeds up. The body
calms and relaxes (very important).
Both SAM and HPA come from the Sympathetic branch.…read more

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Stress-related illness and the immune system.
The immune system is a collection of billions of cells that travel through the bloodstream.
They move in and out of tissues and organs, defending the body against foreign bodies
(antigen), such as bacteria, viruses and cancerous cells.
When we are stressed, the immune system's ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That
is why we are more susceptible to infections.
There are several ways in which stress may be related to illness.…read more

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Stress in Everyday Life:
Life changes and daily hassles
The two main concepts are life changes and Daily hassles.
Our lives change all the time; major changes include:
Moving House
Getting Married
Death in the family
Accommodating these changes can be very stressful.
Holmes and Rahe: Life Changes
Holmes and Rahe 1967: Developed a way to measure Life Events/Changes. They
examined the medical records of over 5000 patients. From this they compiled a list of 43
different life events.…read more

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Rahe 1970: Sailor Study
To see whether illness was related to SRRS scores.
SRRS scores were taken from 2500 male, US sailors, six months before duty.
During the six months, medical records were kept.
After six months SRRS scores correlated with illness.
There was a significant positive correlation between SRRS scores and illness.
So when one went up so did the other.
However this does not mean one causes the other; therefore cause and effect cannot
be concluded.…read more

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Daily hassles
Daily Hassles are little annoying and irritating things in everyday life. E.g. being late or
losing your keys.
However some believe hassles can also arise from pre-existing chronic stressors (life
For example, when a man's wife dies; he now has to deal with the cooking and
cleaning on his own.
As there is a way to measure life changes, Lazarus developed a `hassles scale' for daily
hassles. He felt that daily hassles were just as significant as life changes.…read more

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Delongis 1982
Delongis set out to investigate whether daily hassles would be a better predictor of life
Four things Delongis considered for the participants:
1. Uplifts
2. Hassles
3. Life changes
4. Participants' health
She gave 100 participants (over 45), questionnaires on the above.
1. She found a high positive correlation between hassles and health status; basically
the greater the hassles experienced the more likely there would be health
2. No relationship between uplifts and health.
3.…read more


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