Psychology stress

stress innit

HideShow resource information

the sympathomedullary pathway

  • 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 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
1 of 13

Acute stress





The Adrenal Medulla




Fight or Flight

2 of 13

the pituitary-adrenal system- chronic stress (ongo

Chronic Stress: The Pituitary Adrenal System

  • When a chronic stressor is detected, the hypothalamus is activated.
  • When the hypothalamus is activated, the hormone CRF (corticotrophin releasing factor).
  • CRF then reaches the pituitary gland which causes the release of the hormone ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone).
  • This hormone is then transported through the blood stream to the target site in the adrenal glands.
  • The adrenal cortex is then activated by the arrival of ACTH and releases cortisol which is responsible for several stress related effects on the body.
  • The cortisol then leads to exhaustion.
3 of 13





Pituitary Gland



Adrenal Cortex





4 of 13

How stress effects the immune system

Marucha made a wound in the mouth of students eithier before or after exams. Wounds made three days before exams took 40% longer to heal.

(Field experiment little control over IV, low pop validity only students)

Evans et al looked at a particular antibody called slg A. He found when students had to give a talk to other students (mild stress) students showed an increase of slg A in the blood.

(Field experiment little control over IV, low pop validity only students)

Segerstorm and Miller (2004) conducted a meta-analysis of 293 studies and found short term, acute stressors can boost the immune system, prompting it to ready itself to fight infections and long term chronic stressors led to suppression of the immune system.

5 of 13

Stress related illnesses

Russak found medical professionals doing high level stress jobs (GP) were more likely to suffer from heart disease compared to low level stress jobs (dermatologists) 

(Low population validity- can not be generalized, external factors (field experiment) e.g diet)

Brown found that women who suffered from chronic stress conditions (e.g unemployed or having three kids under 13) were more likely to develop depression. 

(Low population validity- only female, external factors-(field experiment) IV not effecting DV)

Melchior et al found that in studying 1000 people aged 32 15% of those in a high stress job had suffered clinical depression during that year compared to 8% of the low level stress jobs.

(Low population validity only 32 year olds, external factors (field experiment) IV not effecting DV)

6 of 13

Life changes

Holmes+ Rahe found that a range of major life events seem to bring on physical illnesses caused my stress. They composed a list of life events in order of most stress they cause.

Michael et al however found getting divorced 2 on the scale of most stressful sometimes had the opposite effect and that many found more life satisfaction after being divorced then before. This suggests not all life events are going to cause stress and bring on illnesses.

Rahe et al however found that men in the navy that had more life events on that scale happen in the last 6 months had more reported illnesses.

(Low population validity only sailors and men, external factors e.g diet)

Brown- suggests that people with high anxiety are more likely to report life events and more prone to illness)

7 of 13

Daily hassles

Boureyre et al found a positive correlation of uni students with high depressive symptoms and how many daily hassles they reported daily. 41% of students suffered from depressive symptoms if they scored a lot of daily hassles.

(Low population validity, external factors)

Gervais et al found nurses that recorded more daily hassles were increasingly more likely to complain of job strain and a decrease in job performance. However recorded daily uplifts (being complimented) contradicted the effects of their daily hassles.

(Low population validity, external factors)

Scores on the hassle scale correlate with levels of depression, anxiety and health problems. (Kanner et al 1981)

8 of 13

workplace stress

marmot ask over 700 participants to fill out a questionnaire. five years later Marmot found no link between job stress and stress related illnesses.

Russak found medical professionals doing high level stress jobs (GP) were more likely to suffer from heart disease compared to low level stress jobs (dermatologists).

(Low population validity, external factors)

Johnson found in a Swedish sawmill the people having having the the most repetitive and stressful job (others depended on them) had the highest amounts of adrenaline in their blood and stress hormones

(Low population validity, external factors)

9 of 13

personality factors

Type A personality- Competitiveness, impatient, hostile and aggressive.

Type B- more relaxed, patient and not as driven.

Friedman and Rosenman studied 3000 men and after 8 1/2 years those who were said to have a type A personality 12% had had a heart attack compared to 6% of type B.

(Low population validity, external factors, interviews may cause lying)

Ragland+Brand found these men 22 years later and found little evidence of personality type A causing heart attacks

Hardy personality- see themselves as in control of their lives, are committed and see problems as challenges rather then a threat.

Lifton et al measured five US universities and found those students who had scored lowest of a hardy personality quiz were more likely to drop out compared to those who scored high and were more likely to succeed in their course.

(Low population validity, external factors)

10 of 13

Coping with stress

Problem focused coping-

§   Problem focused strategies: these techniques involve making a plan about how to cope with a stressful situation or experience and then following the plan. It is a very active way of dealing with the stressful situation and then eliminating it. These are normally used in a controllable situation.

Penley et al found that problem focused coping given to nursing students has a positive correlation with overall health outcomes.

Gilbar found that breast cancer patients are more likely to use problem focused coping

Emotion-focused coping

      Emotion focused strategies: These techniques involve adapting both behavior and cognitive processing to reduce stress. They attempt to regulate emotion and distress that is associated with the stressful event. This includes denial or seeking social support from a close group of friend. These are normally used in an uncontrollable situation. They often don’t deal with the situation to well if it a short term stressor.

Folkman found that problem focused coping is used by students before exams and emotion focused after by trying to forget it or distance themselves.

11 of 13

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Changing the way we think about stressful situations by looking at evidence and challenging unhelpful thoughts into more rational and effective thought.


sheehy found that law students who received cognitive behavior therapy had a reduction in stress levels and levels of anxiety.

  • Prepares patients for future stressful events
  • No drugs so no side effects
  • Targets the cause not just the symptoms


  • time consuming
  • needs a lot of motivation 
  • expensive
  • hard to break habits
12 of 13


Beta blockers binds to the receptors on the heart and brain to lessen to effect of adrenaline and other hormones. Resulting in a reduced heart rate and a calmer person. 

Benzodiazepines- Allow more chloride ions to enter the neutrons which reduces serotonin activity to reduce anxiety


  • Kahn found beta blockers to be Superior to placebos during a trial of 250 patients.
  • They are very good are working quickly for immediate relief for dangerous symptoms
  • They are very effective and they are available immediately


  • Possible side effects
  • Addiction
  • treating symptoms rather then the problem.
13 of 13


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Stress resources »