The Body's Response to Stress

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The Body's Response to Stress-KEY TERMS

Fight or Flight:

  • To either fight or runaway in response to a sudden (acute) stressor.

Pituitary-Adrenal System:

  • Stress response involving the pituitary gland and adrenal cortex.
  • Helps the body cope with chronic stressors.

Stress:

  • When the percieved demands of a situation are greater than the percieved ability to cope.

Sympathomedullary Pathway:

  • A stress response, involving the SNS and adrenal medulla, which helps the body prepare for fight or flight.
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The Body's Response to Stress-SAM

The sympathomedullary pathway (SNS)                                                                                AO1

Acute-short term

SNS > Adrenal Medulla > Adrenaline

  • 1- Hypothalamus activates the SNS (sympathetic nervous system).
  • 2- Activation of the SNS causes bodily arousal.
  • 3- SNS also activates the adrenal medulla.
  • 4- The adrenal medulla releases adrenaline and noradrenaline into the bloodstream.
  • 5 -These hormones have an effect on the body.
  • 6 -This is a rapid acting pathway.
  • 7- Fight or flight response.
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The Body's Response to Stress-HPA

The hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal pathway (HPA)                                                             AO1

Chronic-long term

Hypothalamus > Pituitary > ACTH > Adrenal Cortex > Cortisol

  • 1- Higher brain centres activate the hypothalamus.
  • 2- Hypothalamus releases CRF - which travels to the pituitary gland.
  • 3- Pituitary releases ACTH - which travels to the adrenal cortex.
  • 4- Adrenal cortex releases corticosteroids (such as cortisol) into the bloodstream.
  • 5- These hormones have an effect on the body.
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The Body's Response to Stress-STRENGTHS

1.

P = A strength of the pyhsiological approach to stress is that it has empirical research support.

E = Baxter (1981) found that people who did not have adrenal glands cannot produce enough cortisol and therefore needed to be given additional quantities if stressed in order to survive.

J = This suggests that the idea of a physiological response to stress has wider acedemic credibility.

2.

P = A further strength of the way the body responds to stress is that it is an objective measure.

E = The reason for this is because the levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline can be measured in the blood stream easily.

J = This suggests that Quantitative methods can be used reliably.

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The Body's Response to Stress-WEAKNESSES

1.

P = One weakness of the physiological approach to stress is that it ignores individual differences

E = Mason (1975) found that hormone levels (adrenaline and noradrenaline) were different in individuals even though they had been exposed to the same stressors meaning that individuals may deal with stress in different ways.

J = This suggests that the physiological response to stress cannot be generalised.

2.

P = A second weakness of the physiological approach to stress is that it is reductionist.

E = A person's response depends on a number of different factors. These include the type of stressor involved and the way the person interprets the threat.

J = This suggests that the physiological approach to stress may be an oversimplification.

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