AS Psychology - Stress

These notes are for the AQA A Exam

Includes : Stress as a Bodily response

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  • Created by: Katie
  • Created on: 16-10-11 15:16

The Bodily Response

The Hypothalamus is the part of the brain that responds to stress.

When the is a 'Stressor' in the enviroment, signals are sent to the hypothalumus. This triggers two processes within the body.

1. Sympathomedullary Pathway: 

This is where the Hypothalamus triggers activity in the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. (which is a branch of the peropheral nervous system.) This branch becomes more in use when the body is stressed and is using energy.

These affects the body in a few ways, including:

  • High blood pressure and heart rate
  • Digestion slows down or even stops
  • Muscles become more tense
  • Sweating
  • Breeating rate increases.
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Followed by... 

2. Pituitary-adrenal system:

This  system produces a counter shock response which supplies the body with more fuel when the  Sympathomedullary response starts to use up the body's resources.

i) The hypothalamus releases CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) 

ii) Anterior pituitary gland releases ACTH

iii)ACTH stimulates the adrenal cortex

iiii) Corticosteroids are released into the blood stream to convert fat and protein into energy.

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Stress and Physical Illness

Selye - General adaptation syndrome (G.A.S) 

1.) Alarm stage:  Our body's first reaction it to increase arousal levels so we are ready to make the necessary physical response. Also knows as the 'Fight or Flight' response 

2.) Resistance stage: If stressor remains for a long time, our bodies adapt to the situation and we seem to be able to cope. However physically arousal levels would still be higher than normal.

3.) Exhaustion stage: after long term exposure we are unable to cope with the situation. Alarm signs may return and we may develop illnesses e.g. Ulcers, high blood pressure, depression etc.

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