psychology revision-unit 2- stress

these are my notes for an upcoming exam. the last bit about methods of stress management is not there but everthing else is.

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Psychology Revision.
Definition: Stress as a response to something in the environment
Stress as a stimulus (stressor) in the environment
Stress as a lack of fit between perceived demands and perceived ability to cope with those
demands. I.e. how much stress individuals experience lies in their perception of themselves and their
world. (Transactional model- looks at the role of individual differences in explaining how people
perceive and react to stressful situations.)
Stress is believed to cause high levels of anxiety and depression, increased vulnerability to colds and
flu's, and heart attacks and strokes.
Selye (1956) pointed out that stress can be associated with positive and negative experiences.
Stress as a bodily response
Body's response to stress involves the adrenal glands, situated above the kidneys. Two sections:
adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla. Both release different sets of hormones into bloodstream. Two
different pathways: the pituitary adrenal system and the sympathomedullary pathway.
Pituitary adrenal system: - Associated with chronic stress. Under control of hypothalamus and
pituitary gland.
When higher brain centres evaluate a situation as stressful, Hypothalamus stimulates
pituitary gland with the use of corticotrophin releasing factors (CRF).
Adrenal gland is stimulated by ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone).
Adrenal cortex releases corticosteroids which release stored energy into the bloodstream
Suppresses your immune system
Sympathomedullary pathway: -associated with acute stress. ANS (autonomic nervous system) two
subdivisions: sympathetic and parasympathetic. (Fight-or-flight response)
When an acute stressor is detected the ANS (Autonomic Nervous System) is aroused
The ANS then releases neurons that travel to the SNS (Sympathetic Nervous System)
The SNS is then activated by the neurons
Neurons from the SNS travel to the adrenal medulla which then activate it
The activated adrenal medulla then releases adrenaline and noradrenaline into the blood stream
Adrenaline increases heart rate and breathing rate, and causes dilation of the pupils
These changes prepare the body for fight or flight
Parasympathetic branch returns body back to normal (calm and relaxed)
Selye's GAS (the General adaptation Syndrome): - three stages

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Alarm- presence of a stressor is registered. Hypothalamic-pituitary system secretes ACTH,
which releases corticosteroids from adrenal cortex, while sympathetic ANS activation leads
to increased adrenaline and noradrenaline being secreted from adrenal medulla. Ready for
fight or flight.
Resistance- body's stress response is fully activated and coping with stressor. Things seem to
be under control.
Exhaustion- if stressor is long-lasting or chronic, body enters exhaustion stage. Hormone
reserves become in short supply and at this point stress-related illnesses develop. E.g.
ulcers, depression, anxiety.…read more

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Short-term stressors and the immune system: - psychological stress can adversely affect many
aspects of immune function; even brief periods of stress have a significant suppression of immune
functioning. Includes a decline in the ability of white blood cells to perform their function in fighting
antigens and a decrease in natural killer cell activity during examination periods. Natural killer cells
attack cells infected by viruses. Also stress can slow wound healing. Immune system prepares tissue
for repair by means of cytokines to promote healing.…read more

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People under the age of 65 more likely to report stress than
older people. (82% vs. 70%).
However, does not tell us how these groups coped with stress or how stress impacts on their
immune-system functioning.
What is a stressor?
Any stimulus in the environment that produces the stress response.
What is a stress response?
A coping mechanism which helps us adapt to acute or short-term reactions to stress
Name the three stages in the General Adaptation Syndrome.
Alert, resistance, exhaustion.…read more

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A reduction in the activation and efficiency of the immune system.
How did Keicolt-glaser and colleagues measure activity of the immune system?
They took blood tests before and after the stressful period and measured the natural killer cell
Stress in everyday life
Life changes and Daily hassles.
Life changes-The social readjustment rating scale (SRRS): - Holmes and Rahe(1967). The way of
measuring the relationship between life changes and wellbeing. The more we have to adjust to
an event the more stressful it is.…read more

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Stone et al.- married couples completed daily checklists of events over three months. Number of
undesirable events experienced increased 3/4 days before onset of illness. Desirable events
decreased over same period. As the undesirable events preceded onset of illness, this suggests that
they might have been responsible for stress-related illness. Supported by the fact that desirable
events decreased.
Michael and Ben-Zur-130 PPS.(mean age 49.3yrs) half male, half female. Half widowed, half
divorced. Findings showed that widowed individuals scored higher on life satisfaction before loss.…read more

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Delongis et al. - compared hassles scores with life events and found that although both
correlated significantly with health status, the association for hassles was greater. No statistical
relationship found between uplifts and health outcomes.
Bouteyre et al. established significant relationship between daily hassles and mental health of
students during initial transition between Uni. 233 1st yr psychology students at a French Uni
answered a questionnaire. Results showed that 41% suffered depressive symptoms and daily
hassles encountered could be considered a significant factor for depression.…read more

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Also contributes to
other sources of work-place stress such as relations with co-workers and lack of control.
Sources of stress affect organisations as well as individuals as it can lead to physical and psychological
consequences that can affect productivity due to a lack of motivation and time off with health
Research on workplace stress: Marmot et al: - To test the job-strain model ­ workplace creates
stress and illness in 2 ways: high demand and low control e.g.…read more

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This shows that
increasing job control can be harmful for individuals .
Individual differences- research has shown that other cultures take on the working practices
of the west a similar relationship between a lack of control and stress-related illness is
becoming evident. However not all workers with low control and high-demand jobs become
ill.…read more

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Commitment- the sense of purpose and involvement in the world around you. The world is
seen as something you engage with. Committed people tend to resist giving up in times of
Challenge- those who possess a challenge orientation do not seek comfort and security as
their main goals but look for change and growth.
Kobasa- those who score high on scales measuring hardiness are less likely to suffer
stress-related physical and psychological disorders.…read more


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