How Stress Occurs Stress occurs as a result of the interplay of environmental situations and life events and the mental, emotional, and physical reactions. –Harm-and-loss situations: Stress occurs because an important need is not met. –Threat situations: Perceived or interpreted as potentially causing harm or loss. –Challenge situations: Major life transitions that are opportunities for growth. –Positive challenges create eustress; negative challenges create distress.
The Mental Component of Stress The appraisal of a situation as absolutely or potentially damaging to one’s physical or psychological well-being or a threat to one’s survival Believing that one’s personal resources are insufficient
The Emotional Component of Stress Consists of unpleasant emotions that arise from one’s appraisal of a situation as harmful or threatening and one’s resources for protection as limited
Factors Affecting the Experience of Stress Predictability Control Belief in outcome Social support
The Fight-or-Flight Response The response activates coordinated discharge of sympathetic nervous system and portions of the parasympathetic nervous system and of hormones, especially epinephrine. Emotions arise in the limbic system, and subsequent physiological response is mediated by the hypothalamus.
The Fight-or-Flight Response Fight-or-flight responses include: Elevated heart rate Elevated blood pressure Constricted blood vessels Dilated pupils Alert, aroused state Liberation of glucose and fatty acids for quick energy
Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Stressful thoughts activate secretion of corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) from the hypothalamus. CRF stimulates release of ACTH from the pituitary. ACTH stimulates releases of cortisol from the adrenal glands. Cortisol helps provide energy for responding to stress. Extended cortisol release suppresses the immune system.
How Stress Contributes to Illness Causes the mind to become worn down Weakens immunity Motivates unhealthy behaviors in an attempt to deal with stress
Illness from Stress Emotions from stress change physiology: –Impairment of heart and immune function Trying to modify stressful emotions can foster unhealthy behaviors: –Smoking, drinking alcohol, other drug use Not engaging in health-promoting activities: –Regular exercise, proper nutrition, sufficient sleep
General Adaptation Syndrome Prolonged stress produces a characteristic response called the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). Activation of GAS can lead to profound changes in vital body organs. Animals receiving mild electric shocks develop ulcers. Air traffic controllers have high incidence of ulcers and other gastrointestinal illness.
General Adaptation Syndrome Three phases: –Stage of alarm: A person’s ability to withstand or resist a stressor is lowered by the need to deal with the stressor, no matter what the stressor is.
General Adaptation Syndrome –Stage of resistance: The body adapts to the continued presence of the stressor by producing more epinephrine, increasing alertness and blood pressure, and suppressing the immune system; if prolonged, the ability to resist is depleted. –Stage of exhaustion: When the ability to resist is depleted, the person becomes ill; this can take months or years.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious, long-lasting psychological condition produced by stress. PTSD results from stress caused by involvement in war, living through a natural disaster, rape, physical assault, life- threatening illness, or any other traumatic experience.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis based on the following symptoms: –Flashbacks to the traumatizing event or recurrent thoughts and dreams of the experience –Difficulty sleeping –Outbursts of anger –Being hyperalert and easily startled –Little interest in daily activities –Feeling cut off from others –A sense of having a limited future
Managing Stress Eliminate interaction with the stressor. Change beliefs and goals. Seek support from those you trust. Use a variety of strategies to cope with stress. Practice versatile coping and passive coping.
What You Can Do About Stress We often contribute to our own stress. –Be mindful to decrease the time your mind swirls around the stress in your life.