Stress Notes

Notes on all topics within Stress for A2 Psychology

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  • Created on: 25-04-12 09:42
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1
Stress
HPA Axis and the SAM Pathway
HPA: Hypothalamic­pituitary­adrenal axis
Hypothalamus > Pituitary Gland > ACTH > Adrenal Cortex > Corticosteroids >Glucose Increases
Sympathetic Nervous System > Adrenal Medulla >Adrenaline and Noradrenaline > Increased Heart
Rate and BP
Stress related illness and the immune system
Stress is normal and part of life.
Stress is an essential motivating and arousing factor energising behaviour and driving us to
achieve our goals
Hormones released during stress have various effects on the body. Adaptive in short term
but long-term can open the possibility that the effects of stress hormones may lead to
illness.
Increased heart rate and blood pressure can lead to physical damage to the lining of blood
vessels or to the muscles of the heart.
Chronic stress blood levels of glucose and free fatty acids can remain high and can result in
heart disease and strokes.
The immune system provides the body's defences against infection and illness.
STUDY: Cohen et al. (1993)
Aim:
o Investigated the role of general life stress on vulnerability to the common cold virus.
Method:
o Three hundred and ninety four participants.
o All Completed questionnaires on the number of stressful life events they had
experienced in the previous year.
o Also rated degree of stress and their level of negative emotions such as depression.
o The three scores were combined into a "stress index".
o The participants were then exposed to the common cold virus leading to 82%
becoming infected with the virus.
o After seven days the number whose infection developed into a clinical cold was
recorded.
Findings:
o Found that the chance of developing a cold was significantly correlated with stress
index scores.
Conclusion:
o That the life stress and negative emotions reduce the effectiveness of our immune
system, leaving participants less able to resist viral infections.
Evaluation:
o Indirect study, no direct measures of immune function

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Supported by Evans and Edgington (1991) who found the probability of developing
a cold was significantly correlated with negative effects in preceding days.
o No direct manipulation so a cause and effect cannot be confirmed.
o Doesn't tell which element of the stress index is the most important.
Ethics:
o Full consent and a debriefing
o Should be monitored constantly to check for any reactions
STUDY: Kiecolt-Glaser et al (1984)
Aim:
o Naturalistic life stressors and their impact on measures of immune function.…read more

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Life Changes and Daily Hassles
E.g. Travel hold ups, boring job or lecture, being with people you don't like, issues over
relationships, imminent exams, what career to follow? Etc.
Occasionally we experience major life events. E.g. leaving home for the first time, getting
married, buying a house, having children, divorce, bereavement, being a long-term carer,
chronic illness, disability etc.
Stress is part of everyday life and can be relatively minor or short lasting (acute) or more
sever and longer lasting (chronic).…read more

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STUDY: Rahe et al (1970)
Aim:
o To investigate link between LCUs and illness in a sample of healthy participants.
Method:
o 2500 male US navy personnel filled in the SRRS for the previous six months.
o Followed for seven-month tour of duty and all stress related illness recorded and
rated for number and severity, producing an overall illness score.
Findings:
o Positive correlation of 0.118 between LCU scores and illness scores.
o Relatively low correlation, but statistically significant.…read more

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Since the 1960s a long-term series of studies had been running on relationships between
workplace stress and health.
Also include various individual risk factors like smoking, BP, cholesterol.
London-based Civil servants ( the Whitehall studies)
In Whitehall I ­ clear differences between workers were found with regard to heart
problems and mortality rate. Workers in lower-paid grades had twice the illness rate of
those in higher.
Differences in in risk factors accounted for about ¼ of this difference.…read more

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Categorised as TAB or TBB by structured interview; observation (finger tapping, restlessness
etc)
Participants followed for 8.5 years. During this time there were 257 heart attacks, 69% of
which were in the TAB group. This was significant when lifestyle risk factors were controlled
for.
Concluded that high TAB individual was vulnerable to heart disease.
Evaluation:
Culture and gender specific Findings only generalised with caution. Even definition of TAB is
based on western concepts.
Many individual and lifestyle variables that can affect Heart Disease.…read more

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The first was the personality type vulnerable to cancer, and this personality was associated
with difficulties in expressing emotions and with social relationships.
The second was a personality type vulnerable to CHD. This was similar to TAB. They were
characterised by high levels of anger and hostility.
There is no consistent evidence linking these personality types to either cancer or CHD.
Denollet (2000) has proposed yet another personality type that in his view is vulnerable to
heart disease.…read more

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A background issue in most stressful situations is physiological arousal.
Therefore, regardless of the particular source of stress, training relaxation in
useful.
3. Application in the real world:
o After practising specific skills and relaxation techniques in the therapeutic setting the
client is then encouraged to apply them in the real world.
Evaluation:
The first stages in managing stress involve identifying the sources of stress in one's life and
assessing how well you have dealt with them in the past.…read more

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Hardiness training involves time, commitment and money. It is therefore not for
everyone.
Physiological Methods of Stress Management
Drugs
Benzodiazepines
o Stressful situations often associated with feelings of anxiety.
o Up to the 1960's anxiety was treated with drugs from the barbiturate family.
o Although it could be effective, barbiturates are lethal in overdose and also produce high
levels of physical dependency.
o In the 1960s BZs were introduced. These rapidly took over from barbiturates in the
treatment of stress and anxiety.…read more

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Should be able to apply techniques in real life later.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Meditation
o Not a technique of its own but used in others e.g.…read more

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