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Introductory Psychology: Stress


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lecture 27 from a college level introduction to psychology course taught Fall 2011 by Brian J. Piper, Ph.D. ( at Willamette University, Seyle

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Introductory Psychology: Stress

  1. 1. StressBrian J. Piper, Ph.D.
  2. 2. Stress and Health  Stress and Illness  Stress and the Heart  Stress and Susceptibility to Disease
  3. 3. Stress and HealthPsychological states cause physical illness. Stress is any circumstance (real or perceived) that threatens a person’s well-being.When we feel severe stress, our ability to cope with it is impaired.
  4. 4. Stress and Health Stress can be adaptive. In a fearful or stress-causing situation, we can run away and save our lives. Stress can be maladaptive. If it is prolonged(chronic stress), it increases our risk of illness and health problems. Stress
  5. 5. Stress and Stressors Stress is a slippery concept. At times it is thestimulus (missing an appointment) and at other times it is a response (sweating while taking a test).
  6. 6. Stress and StressorsStress is not merely a stimulus or a response. It is a process by which we appraise and cope with environmental threats and challenges. Bob Daemmrich/ The Image WorksWhen short-lived or taken as a challenge, stressors mayhave positive effects. However, if stress is threatening or prolonged, it can be harmful.
  7. 7. The Stress Response SystemWalter Cannon proposed that the stress response(fast) was a fight-or-flight response marked by theoutpouring of epinephrine and norepinephrine fromthe inner adrenal glands (medulla), increasing heart and respiration rates, and dulling pain. Medulla: Epinephrine Cortex: Cortisol
  8. 8. Evolutionary Psychology• Robert Sapolsky• 0:15 – 3:58:
  9. 9. General Adaptation SyndromeAccording to Selye, a stress response to any kind ofstimulation is similar. The stressed individual goes through three phases.
  10. 10. General Adaptation Syndrome Alarm “Fight or Flight” reaction: body mobilizes resources to combat threat; activates the sympathetic nervous system. Resistance Enhanced ability to fight stressor via moderate physiological arousal; ability to withstand additional stressors (e.g., infection) is reduced. ExhaustionDepletion of resources brings on diseases and disorders (e.g., chronically high heartrate and blood pressure increase chances of heart attack and stroke).3 min:
  11. 11. Chronic Stress & Neurogenesis• Rats were exposed to 125 dB 12kHz noises for 2 hours/day for 10 weeks• Hippocampampal tissue was processed for doublecortin for new neurons (subgranular zone or SGZ). * Kraus et al. (2010). Neuroscience, 167, 1216-1226.
  12. 12. Stressful Life Events Catastrophic Events: Catastrophic events like earthquakes, combat stress, and floods leadindividuals to become depressed, sleepless, and anxious.
  13. 13. Significant Life ChangesThe death of a loved one, a divorce, a loss of job,or a promotion may leave individuals vulnerable to disease.
  14. 14. Stress & Lifespan?• Top Causes of Death (2009): – Heart Disease – Cancer – Chronic respiratory diseases – Stroke – Accidents – Alzheimer’s – Diabetes – Influenza & pneumonia – Kidney disease – Suicide
  15. 15. Stress& Lifespan?Expected Lifespan (2009): – Caucasian Males: 76.2 – Caucasian Females: 80.9 – African American Males: 70.9 – African American Females: 77.4 Center for Disease Control, 2009
  16. 16. Health-Related Consequences Stress can have a variety of health-related consequences.Kathleen Finlay/ Masterfile
  17. 17. Stress and the Heart Stress that leads to elevated blood pressure may result in coronary heart disease, a clogging of the vessels that nourish the heart muscle. Plaque in Arterycoronary artery clogged
  18. 18. Personality TypesType A is a term used by Meyer Friedman forcompetitive, hard-driving, impatient, verbally 1910-2001aggressive, and anger-prone people.Type B refers to easygoing, relaxed people. Type A personalities are more likely to die from coronary heart disease. Total (3154) CHD Death (50) A 1589 (50.4%) 34 (68%) B 1565 (49.6%) 16 (32%) Rosenman et al. (1975). JAMA, 233, 872-877.
  19. 19. Pessimism and Heart Disease Pessimistic adult men (sample = 2000 Veterans) are twice as likely to develop heart disease over a 10-year period.Kubzansky et al. (2001). Psychosomatic Medicine, 63, 910-916.
  20. 20. Stress & Susceptibility to DiseaseA psychophysiological illness is any stress-related physical illness such as hypertension and some headaches. Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a developingfield in which the health effects of psychological, neural, and endocrine processes on the immune system are studied.
  21. 21. PsychoneuroimmunologyB lymphocytes fight bacterial infectionsT lymphocytes attack viruses and cancer cellsmicrophages ingest foreign substances During stress, energy is mobilized away from the immune system making it vulnerable.
  22. 22. Stress and ColdsPeople with the highest life stress scores were also the most vulnerable when exposed to an experimental cold virus.
  23. 23. Stress and AIDS Stress and negative emotions may accelerate theprogression from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
  24. 24. HIV Worldwide UN AIDS/WHO, 2004 Data
  25. 25. Stress and Cancer Stress does not create cancer cells. Researchers disagree on whether stress influences the progression of cancer. However, they do agreethat avoiding stress and having a hopeful attitude cannot reverse advanced cancer.
  26. 26. Behavioral MedicinePsychologists and physicians have developed an interdisciplinary field of behavioral medicine that integrates behavioral knowledge with medical knowledge.“Mind” and body interact; everything psychological is simultaneously physiological.
  27. 27. Summary• GAS• Stress & Health
  28. 28. Course Summary• Biopsychosocial• Comparative• Scientific process (Question authorities!)