Psychology bodily responses

overview on the body's response to stress

  • Created by: leila
  • Created on: 05-06-11 19:39

The autonomic nervous system


Is central to homeostasis.

Homeostatis is a regulation of a constant internal enviroment. e.g. body temperature.

ANS has two separate divisions

the sympathetic branch - arousal (e.g. increase heart rate)

the parasympathetic branch - physiological calm (e.g. decrease heart rate)

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Hypothalamic-pituitary -adrenal axis

Hypothalamus stimulates realse of 


from pituitary gland into bloodstream 

ACTH travels to cortex of adrenal gland and

triggers the realise of 

cortisol and corticosteriods into bloodstream

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The sympathetic-adrenomedullary (SAM) pathway

Activated by the hypothalamus, 

nerve pathways of the 

sympathetic branch of the 


stimulates the adrenal medulla 

to realise adrenaline and noradrenaline into the bloodstream

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GAS Seyle's general adaption syndrome

Stage 1: Alarm 
stressor perceived and HPA and SAM activated. Stress related hormones surge, heart rate and blood pressure increase.

Stage 2: Resistance 

if stress presists body's response remains activated bodily arousal remain high.

Stage 3: Exhaustion 

chronic stress eventually exhausts the body's defence system. This is when stress related illness may develop. 


- Ignors individual differences and cognitive elements of perception and appraisal. 

- it is thought that its the effect of the chronic raised levels of stress hormones that can lead to illness.

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Other key points

Transactional model of stress: primary and secondary appraisal processes, we identify sources of stress in the enviroment and then assess our available coping resources. Stress exists when there is an imbalance between the two. 

Modern stressors do not usually lead to "fight or flight" and we do not burn up the energy resources they may contribute to stress related illness.

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