Stress Revision

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Psychology Revision
Chapter 1 ­ Stress
Stress is something that most individuals endure everyday of their lives; it can affect some
people more than others. It is believed to account for depression and high anxiety levels can
also increase the chances of getting minor or major illnesses. The term `stress' is attributed
to an American psychologist - Walter Cannon, who used it in 1914. There are three common
ways of defining stress;
Stress can be a response to something in the environment
Stress can be a stimulus (or a stressor) in the environment
Stress can be a lack of fit or balance between perceived demand and perceived
abilities to be able to cope with those demands
The Body's response to Stress
Hans Selye in the 1930's introduced the topic of stress into the scientific and psychological
world. After studying the reactions of rats to the stress of repeated daily injections. Selye
proposed that in animals and humans, the body responds to a range of psychological and
physical stressors in the same pattern of physiological activation. He called the pattern of
this `The General Adaptation Syndrome' (1956). He also suggested in some
circumstances Stress could lead to harmful changes in the body.
There are two main ways in which the body responds to stress, which both involve the use
of the Adrenal Gland, which is just above the kidney. It has two main sections;
The Pituitary- Adrenal System ­the Hypothalamus, which is the structure at the
base of the brain, and the Pituitary Gland, which is based under the skull which
realises hormones, control this. When the brain senses a stressful situation it tells
the hypothalamus to release a corticotrophin (CRF) this travels to the pituitary gland
which releases adrenocorticotrophic Hormone (ACTH) this then travels to the cortex
which realises corticosteroids into the blood stress. These have a range of relaxing
effects on the Body which are vital in stress response.

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The Sympathomedullary pathway- The control of the Medulla is very different.
The Autonomic Nervous system (ANS- network of nerve pathways running from
centres into the lower part of the brain out to organs and glands) the role of the SNS
is to maintain balance in the bodily system in response to demands.…read more

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The General Adaptation Syndrome
Seyle's experiments on rats prompted him to develop `The General Adaptation Syndrome' in
1956. This explained the short term effects of exposure to stressors and the long term
stress related illnesses. It has three different stages;
The Immune System
This is our main defence against infection by foreign agents. It is a very complicated
networks of cells and chemicals throughout the body this function to seek out and destroy
invading particles.…read more

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Life Changes
The `Social Readjustment Scale' measures the relationship between life changes and
wellbeing. It was developed by Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe in 1967. It has been widely
used for the assessment of stress in individuals, and in recent years there have been lots of
During changes in our lives we have to adjust, the more we have to adjust, the more
stressful the event is. Holmes and Rahe made a list of major life events based on experience.…read more

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Era Dependent ­ the Scale is now dated and brief. Things were very different in the 1970's to what
they are today
Daily Hassles
Daily hassles are relatively minor events that arise in the course throughout the day. They
include for example; concerns about work, concerns over a dispute. They can be part of you
daily routine, for example stress to catch the bus or stress of something unexpected like a
compute breaking down.…read more

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The other idea is that the daily hassles arise from pre-existing
stressors and so amplify the effects of the existing stressor.
Evaluation of Research into Daily Hassles
Causality ­ What does the research tell us? Most of it is correlational so we can only assume
there are casual relationships, cause and effect cannot be determined, and it could come
from a third unknown variable.…read more

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It can also contribute to relationship
Stress can lead to physical and psychological consequences, which in turn affect productivity
through not being motivated to work, and the time that they take off work.
Personality Factors: Type A behaviour
In the early 1960's Friedman and Rosenman studied the behaviour of people suffering with
coronary heart disease (CHD) and proposed that a particular behaviour pattern was
associated with increased vulnerability to this stress related illness.…read more

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Evaluation of Type A behaviour
Lack of Consistent Research- since the original work by Friedman and Rosenman there has
been other research, both retrospective and prospective, but the correlation scores are
never very high.
The Role of Hostility - Type a behaviour has been more closely analysed , a critical
personality variable is hostility, when levels are very high and are compared with other
variables of Type A behaviour, the likely hood of receiving CHD is increased.…read more

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Coping Strategy's to Stress
A coping Strategy is an attempt to manage stress effectively as well as moderating the
emotional impact that it might have on an individual. Different Strategies are used at
different times, depending on the personal preference of the individual.…read more

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GABA, which tells neurones to slow down, letting the individual feel
relaxed. Examples of these drugs can be Librium or Valium.
Beta Blockers such as Inderal don't enter the brain but directly reduce pathways of the SNS
around the body, which is a key feature of stressful states. They reduce levels of
noradrenaline and adrenaline in the body and are therefore very god at relieving symptoms
such as blood pressure or heart rate.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of using
Drugs...…read more


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