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Flashcards in ch16 stress Deck (31):

Stress Definition

  • pattern of physiological, behavioural, & cognitive responses to stimuli (real or imagined) that disturb equilibrium & tax or exceed our ability to cope
  • physical and psychological responses to internal or external stressors


Stress Definition - physiological, behavioural, cognitive responses?


  • physiological = real event in body: lungs are working harder, adrenaline, immune system producing corticosteroids
  • Behavioural: running, fighting, moving quicker
  • Cognitive : attention focuses, narrows on what you have to deal with – can’t notice things outside of it




  • specific events or chronic pressures that place demands on a person or threaten the person’s well-being
  • aka what causes stress – can be an earthquake, a person, etc



Health Psychology

how psychological factors influence the causes and treatment of physical illness and maintenance of health


Levels of Stress: hassles vs stress?


  • Hassles: small stress like losing keys, social obligation you don’t want to go to, not sleeping well, environmental noise
  • Duration is what differentiates it from stress: hassles have same effect as stress, but lasts shorter
  • Stress: prolonged exposure to something taxing


Chronic Stress


  • stressful events that occur continuously or repeatedly – PTSD
  • ex: Strained relationships, financial problems, etc
  • Small stressors easy to ignore if they happen occasionally but accumulate to distress and illness
  • More symptoms and greater and longer lasting impact than major life events
  • Many are linked to particular environments – ex. city life


Percieved control - study by who?

Glass & Singer (1972) did studies of perceived control: aftereffects of loud noise on people who could or couldn’t control it


Fight or flight response


  • autonomic NS - sympathetic
  • emotional and physiological reaction to an emergency that increases readiness for action


Nervous vs Endocrine System


  • NS: rapid responses
  • Endo: slower, more gradual and more sustained



Endocrine System - purpose, what?


  • Regulates mood, growth, metabolism, sexual and reproductive processes
  • System of glands that secretes hormones that go directly to bloodstream



  • like NT, but NT travel small distances
  • hormones travel from one part of body to another



  • type of hormone released by adrenal gland during stress
  • biochemicals indicating activation of emotional systems
  • Amphetamines inhibit breakdown of catecholamines


Immune system - what and purpose?


  • defense system
  • fight invading bacteria/viruses
  • Complex response system that protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances


Antigen vs Pathogen


  • A: protein on surface of cell
  • P: invading bacteria


HPA axis


  • threat activates hypothalamus
  • hypothalamus secretes CRH which stimulates pit gland
  • pit gland releases ACTH which stimulates adrenal gland
  • adrenal gland secretes hormones


HPA axis - adrenal gland secretes? (2)


  • Cortisol, a major stress hormone - increases concentration of glucose in blood so muscles have fuel, also dampens immune system by muting white blood cells
  • Catecholamines: epinephrine and norepinephrine - increase sympathetic NS (increase heart rate, blood pressure, respiration) so more oxygen is available to muscles for attack/escape


Hans Selye


  • studied physiological consequences of severe threats to well being
  • GAS


GAS - general adaptation syndrome


  • description of the body’s short term and long-term reaction to stress
  • three stage physiological stress response that appears regardless of the stressor that is encountered
  • nonspecific so response doesn’t vary according to source of repeated stress


Selye's Three Phases of Stress Reponse?


  1. Alarm reaction - mobilize resources
  2. resistance - cope with stressor
  3. exhaustion - reserves depleted


GAS - phase 1

  • Alarm Phase
  • Body rapidly mobilizes resources to respond to threat – aka fight or flight  lasts only a few seconds
  • muscles clench, heart rate and breathing increase, more blood sent throughout body


GAS - phase 2


  • Resistance Phase
  • Body adapts to high state of arousal, tries to cope with stressor and maintain homeostasis
  • continues to draw on resources of fat/muscle, release of hormones, blood sugar, blood pressure stays high
  • stops unnecessary processes like digestion, growth, sex drive, menstruation, testosterone/sperm production


GAS - phase 3


  • Exhaustion Phase
  • body depleted of resources, resistance collapses
  • Resistance phase defenses created gradual damage = costs for body like susceptibility to infection, tumor growth, aging, organ damage, death
  • Can still recover from this stage but will take longer than if stressor had ended at stage 2



Is stress always bad?

  • sometimes you need a quick burst of speed
  • shot of adrenaline
  • stress gives you energy, vigilance and attention


Stress bad because?

  • prolonged stress can lead to anxiety and poorer performance (while a little bit of stress helps performance)
  • can lead to chronic heart disease, increased risk of heart attack, damage to heart tissue, stunted growth, infertility, supresses immune system


Hans Selye – there are two kinds of stress?

  • Eustress: positive stress like having a baby, getting married, graduating
  • Distress: what we think of when we think of stress – negative stress


Causes of Stress - what do they have in common?

  • Majority of the things are psychological in nature = in our heads, not in the real world
  • That means 5/7 major stressors are unique to us as a species


Stress and Immune System: phagocytes? lymphocytes? glucocorticoids?

  • Phagocytes: neutrophils that are first on the seen, attach to antigens and destroy them
  • Lymphocytes: produce antibodies that fight infection (T cells – rupture cell and B cells)
  • Glucocorticoids flood the brain – wears down immune system so less able to fight invaders


Physical vs Psychological Stressors

  • Physical stressors: colds, bacterium, viruses - make us more likely to get sick
  • Psychological stressors: inside our head, can be a result of for example, taking care of someone with a chronic disease


Baboons - major stressor? perfect model? our stress is different?

  • Each other – other baboons
  • perfect model for western stress-related disease because a lot of our stress is social in nature, not physical

- How is our stress different from the stress of other animals, like zebras?
o They can turn it off after – we are constantly worrying
- Examples of studies
o Medical volunteers received mouth wounds – healed slower during exams than summer
o Researchers swabbed cold virus into volunteer’s nose – people got colds depending on stress levels  volunteers who had experience chronic stressors more likely to suffer colds
o Social status and health: British civil servants with higher status had lower rates of death
o People who perceive themselves in lower social status are more prone to suffer from respiratory infection


Examples of studies - stress and mouth wounds? colds?

  • Medical volunteers received mouth wounds – healed slower during exams than summer
  • Researchers swabbed cold virus into volunteer’s nose – people got colds depending on stress levels