Stress As A Bodily Response

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Stress is a lack of confidence between percieved demands and the ability to cope with those demands.

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Bodily Response To Stress

Hypothalamus - controls the physiological activities involved in stress. The Hypothalamus triggers two processes in the body Activaiton of Sypathomedullary Pathway and Activtion of Pituitary-Adrenal System.

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Pituitary-Adrenal System

- If stress is long term,second system produces a counter body response.

- Hypothalamus triggers release of CRF, which stimulates the pituitary gland which releases ACTH.

- ACTH  travles through the body and stimulates the adrenal cortex which release corticosteriods which are released into the bloodstream which gives us energy.

- Energy is converting fat into protein.

- Requires energy for 'flight or fight'.

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Sympathomedullary Pathway

- Inital shock response in the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system.

- The sympathetic branch becomes more active when the body is stressed and uses more energy.

- Stimultion of the adrenal medulla within the adrenal glands, release adrenline and noradrealine into the bloodstream.

- This affects the body by increase in blood pressure and heart rate and breathing increases.

- In result the body changes and is ready to deal with the stress.

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Age and Gender

 - Women are more likely to report problemsand being stressed than men (84% V 76%)

- People under the age of 65 were more likely to report being stressed more than older people (82% V 70%)


- Kiecolt-Glaser et al (2003) "different ways in which me and womens immune system reacts to marital conflict - women having hormonal changes"

- Segerstrom and Miler (2004) "age affects the way the immune system reacts to stress because age makes the body harder to regulate itself"

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Effects On The Immune System

- Infection and Diseases (illness occurs more frequently because immune system is weakened from stress, also takes longer to recover)

- Indirect Effects (stress causes the release of ACTH from the PG in the brain which causes the adrenal glands to release anit-infamitory hormones which inhabit the immune system)

- Psoriasis and Exzema (skin disorders worsen with stress. Stress interferes with the immune systems ability to cope with the inflamation from these disorders)

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Chronic Stress and Immune System

Chronic stress (long lasting) has been found to have consequences on the immune system function. Three main Chronic Stressors:

- Conflict in Interpersonal Relationships (couples whose interactions are negetive and hostile towards each other show less adaptive immunilogical responces after these interactions. Kiecolt-Glaser et al 2005 - tested the effect on wound healing and found that wounds arm blisters heal more slowly after conflict than after supportive discussions)

- Death of a Spouse (death of a close relative can affect immune system disfunction. Gerra et al 2003 - found someone who has unexpected bereavment had lower natural killer cell and lympthocyte actvity compared to non bearveved controls observed 40 days after death)

- Care Giving (particularly in a person taking care of a spouse with dementia was associated with immue system disfunction. Kiecolt-Glaser 2000 - found care givers were frequently socially isolated, experienced over whelming, shows higher levels of depression and anxiety. Show lower levels of natural killer cell compared to matched controls)

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Cohen Et Al 1993

Cohen added to the debate by demonstrating a study where:

- participants had to fill in a questionnaire on negetive life events, how stressed they felt and the degree of negetive emotions they felt

- the scores were then combined into the stress index (higher the score, more chance of getting the cold virus)

- the participants were then exposed to low doses of common col symptoms

- findings show 82% of 394 participants became infected

- this study is a correlational study which it shows high levels of stress reduces the immune system.

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Short Term Stressors and Immune System

It has been proven that short term stressors affect the immune system functions (Kiecolt-Glaser et al 1984)

These effects include:

- ability of white blood cells to perfrom their fighting antigens and decrease naturak killer cell activity (Kiercolt-Glasser 1991)

- effects of stressors on the immune system functioning may increase when indivduals are already stressed for examples exams (Marshall et al 1998)

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Stress Related Illness (Cardiovascular)

Williams 2000 - anger linked to heart disease?

-  13,000 people filled out a 10 question questionnaire (including questions about there temporament, physical violence and whether they got no recognition given for good work)

- none of the participants had experienced heart problems

- 6years later 256 participants had experienced heart attacks.


- higher the anger test score: 2 and half times more likely to have a heart attack

- moderate scores: 35% more likely to have a conory event

- suggests people with angry isses may lead to cardiovascular disorders

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Stress Related Illness (Cardiovascular)

Russek 1962 - studied heart disease in medical professions

- one group of doctors who had high stress (gps and anastethics)

- other groups with low stress (pathologist and dermotoligists)


- heart disease was greatest among Gps 11.9%

- lowest was in dermotolists 3.2%

- stress is linked to heart disease

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How To Outline and Evaluate


- INTRO ( definition of the key words and how are they linked?)

- RESEARCH ( three pieces of research brieftly outline procdure and findings)




- CONCLUSION (what i think and is it useful)

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