AQA A- Unit 2- Stress

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  • Created by: kelsey97
  • Created on: 26-04-15 14:29

Stress Pathways

Sympathomedullary Pathway (SAM):

  • Deals with short term stressors.
  • Hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system
  • Then stimulates the adrenal medulla to release the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline into the bloodstream.
  • This gets the body ready for fight or flight
    • slows down reproductive and digestive system
    • increases blood supply to legs
    • heart pumps faster
    • breathing rate increases
    • pupils dilate

Pituitary-adrenal system:

  • Deals with long term stressors.
  • Hypothalamus causes pituitary gland to release ACTH
  • ACTH travels through the bloodstream to the adrenal glands.
  • Cortisol released by adrenal cortex- responsible for quick bursts of energy, lower sensitivity to pain, impaired cognitive performance, lowered immune response
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Studys in to relationship between stress and immun

Kiecolt-Glaser et al (1984):

  • 75 medical students
  • Blood test 1 month before and during exams
  • Higher NK cells in first blood sample
  • Findings- short term stressors reduce immune system increasing vulnerability to illness.

Kiecolt-Glaser et al (2005):

  • Effects of inter-personal relationships on wound healing
  • Blisters on arms of married couples
  • Healed slower after conflicting discussions.
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Study into work place stress

Marmot et al:

  • 7372 participants- civil servants from london.
  • They completed an questionnaire and checked for signs of cardiovascular disease
  • 5 years later- checked for cardiovascular disease, asked about employment grade, job control and social support.
  • Lower grade (lack of control) was the cause of stress.

Johansson et al:

  • Natural experiment 24 participants
  • Two groups: 10 in low risk and 14 in high risk
  • Those in high risk has 2X as much adrenalin and felt rushed.

Karasek's stress model

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Life changes

Life changes: an event which requires a readjustment.

SRRS-Holmes & Rahe: 

  • Based on 43 life event
  • Marriage used as a base line of 50
  • 394 participants- scores from all participants were totaled and averaged

Rahe et al:

  • Military version of SRRS given to 2700 men before they went on tour.
  • Low LCU score had low illness and those with high LCU score had higher levels of illness

Delongis et al:

  • 75 married couples
  • Gave participants a life events questionnaire and a HSUP questionaire.
  • They found no realtionship between life events and health.
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Daily Hassles VS Daily uplifts

Daily Hassles- Frustrating demands that happen in everyday life.

Daily Uplifts- The minor positive experience of everyday life

Hassle and Up Lifts scale:

  • HSUP measures respondent's attitudes towards daily situations.
  • Provides a way to evaluate the positive and negative

Bouteyer et al:

  • Studied relationship between daily hassles & mental health of students between school and uni
  • First year Psych students completed hassle part of HSUP & Becks depression inventory.
  • 41% suffered from depression.
  • High correlation between scores on scale & incidents of depressive symptoms.

Accumulation effect- a build up of daily hassles resulting in more serious stress reactions such as anxiety and depression.

Amplification effect- major life changes may make people more vulnerable towards daily hassles.

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Personality types

Type A:

  • Competitive
  • Achievement striving
  • Impatient
  • working to deadlines 
  • Unhappy doing nothing
  • Hostile and aggressive

Type B: 

  • Patient
  • Relaxed
  • Easy going

Hardy personality:

  • Control- you can influence events in your life
  • Commitment- involved in world around them and strong sense of purpose
  • Challenge- viewed as an opportunity rather than stressor.
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Studies into Personality factors and stress

Freidman and Rosenman- Western Collaborative Group Study:

  • 3000 men 39-59, California,they were examined for signs of CHD and personalities were assessed in an interview.
  • After 8 1/2 2X as many type A experienced heart attack and had high blood pressure.

Kabasa and Maddi- American buisness executive:

  • 800 Americans completed the SRRS
  • 150 were classified as high stress- some of these had low illness.
  • Hardy personality encourages resilience-those high stress, low illness were high on Hardy

Supporting- Lifton:

  • Measured hardiness in students in 5 unis
  • Low hardiness were disproportionately represented in drop-outs & high scores were more likely to finish their degree.


  • Meta-analysis of 35 studies.
  • Found association between CHD and 1 component of Type A- Hostility but no other association between type A and CHD
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Stress management-Physiological-Drugs

Drug Therapies:

  • Benzodiazepines (BZ)
  • Slows down activity of central nervous system.
  • BZ's enhance action of GABA- a neurotransmitter- the body's natural form of anxiety relief.
  • Also reduce serotonin activity- reduces anxiety


  • Effective
  • Easy
  • Pharmacological effects- not just placebo
  • Kahn et al- 250 patients, 8 weeks- BZ's significantly superior to a placebo.


  • BZ's are addictive- even really low doses- limited to 4 weeks.
  • Side effects- increased aggressiveness, cognitive side effects & tired.
  • Treats the symptoms rather than the problem- not long term.
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Stress management- Physiological- Biofeedback


  • Machine measures muscle tension, skin temp and electrical conduction in skin.
  • As device pick up higher readings the noise gets louder and will have to find a way to calm down and lower readings to stop annoying noise.
  • Will understand what helps calm them down and can apply to later situations.


  • Results often impressive
  • Lasting effects
  • Harmless- no side effects- not unethical etc.
  • Meuret: biofeedback on breathing pattern effective for people with panic disorder


  • Requires motivation and commitment.
  • Time- lots of sessions- training
  • Specialist equipment.
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Stress management-Psychological-Hardiness Training

Hardiness Training:

  • Aims to increase self-confidence and sense of control and consists of 3 stages:
  • Focusing- taught to recognise biological signs of stress & identify source of stress.
  • Reliving stress encounter- relive stress encounter & helped to analyse situation & their response. Gives them insight into current coping strategies & how to be more effective.
  • Self improvement- insight can now be used to move forward & learn new techniques. Taught to see stressor as a challenge to take control of.


  • Fletcher- UK olympic swimmers experience hardiness training- ensure they are committed to their training & challenge of increasing performance levels & able to control stressful aspects of daily life


  • Considerable effort required- might not be necessary when results can be achieved more simply.
  • Might not be suitable for certain personalities.
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Stress management- Psychological-SIT

Stress Inoculation Therapy (Meichenbaum): Form of cognitive behavioural therapy

  • Suggests a form of coping before problem arises and consitis of 3 stages:
    • Conceptualisation phase- therapist and client establish relationship. Client learns nature and impact of stress- taught how to view stressors as problem to be solved.
    • Skill acquisition phase-  coping skills (tailored to client) taught and practiced in the clinic and rehearse in real life.
    • Application phase- given opportunity to apply new coping skill in different situations.


  • Treats cause and symptoms
  • Preparation for future- long term
  • Meichenbaum- compared SIT with Systematic desensitisation and found SIT could help with other phobias aswel.


  • Time consuming- lots of sessions
  • Requires lots of motivation
  • Complex and range of activities could be reduced.
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