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Stress response

-The physiological changes that occur when you experience a stressor
-Complex network of nerve signalling and hormonal messaging which activates some physiological processes and suppresses others
-A way in which individuals regulate their physiology in response to daily activities and environmental conditions



.Anything that activates / elicits a stress response (usually threats to survival or reproduction)


Hans Selye

. Describe the "general adaptation syndrome" as a predictable way that the body responds to stress


general adaptation syndrome

-The predictable way the body responds to stress
-Described by Hans Selye
-3 stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion
1. fight or flight response
2. focus resources against stressor
3. if stress prolonged or beyond capacity, body exhausts itself



the normal range for a physiological system varies by circumstances in an adaptive fashion
-process by which body reacts to stress in order to maintain homeostasis


allostatic load

the costs associated with the negative health outcomes of a prolonged stress response
-"wear and tear" of chronic stress.


autonomic nervous system

the part of the nervous system responsible for control of the bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes.


sympathetic nervous system

-activates stress response


parasympathetic nervous system

-suppresses stress response.


adrenal gland

-secretes epinephrine (adrenaline), located just above kidneys


hormonal stress response

1.threat perception by brain
2. release of corticotrophin-releasing hormone by hypothalamus
3. secretion of ACTH/corticotropin by pituitary gland (HPA axis)
4. circulation of ACTH in the bloodstream triggering the release of cortisol by the adrenal gland
5. cortisol receptors in brain structures such as the hippocampus can stimulate further cortisol release



Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. It also has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress.


HPA axis

complex set of direct influences and feedback interactions among three components: the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal.
-component of major neuroendocrine system


EAA in relation to stress response

-environment of evolutionary adaptedness
-persistent activation of stress response as result of thinking a lot and complex/stressful contemporary social situations
-these issues happen because we are maladapted to our modern stress environment


Stress in humans

-different! we present chronic anxiety and persistent activation of stress response


stress and biological normalcy

-studies about stress in many areas, such as those in th US, tend to be biased, especially towards having highly stressed individuals be presented as the norm rather than as pathologic
-cadavers used to study were historically from working class rather than upper clas


CVD and stress

-heart is one of the main targets of epinephrine
-receives indirect effects from cortisol
-increased risk of CVD asociated with stress
-changes in blood pressure (hypertension), possibility of heart attack and stroke


immune function and stress

-cortisol causes IMMUNOSUPPRESSION in the form of thymus shrinkage, lowered circulating T-cell levels, reduced cytokine levels, and the inhibition of antigen presentation
-can become pathological over time
-tied to chronic stress
EX) getting sick during exam season



-the partial or complete suppression of the immune response of an individual.



-is the system of immune responses of an organism against its own healthy cells and tissues. Any disease that results from such an aberrant immune response is termed an "autoimmune disease"`


child growth and stress

-can occur at any point in growth and development
-in utero experience influences development of the HPA response
-impaired growth
-accelerated development
-influence of security and attachment
-extreme end results in psychosocial dwarfosm


attachment and stress

-formation of attachment anxiety and avoidance


delayed growth and stress

-stress sends a signal to delay physical growth


accelerated development and stress

-accelerated sexual develop and maturity
-lower age at which can bear children and in turn maximize change at reproducing


Whitehall study

-studies of British civil servants
-observed differences in stress and health tied closely to social class and more disparate with higher levels of inequality
-compared mortality of people in the highly hierarchical environment of british civil service


Michael Marmot

-studied social determinants on health alongside Richard Wilkinson
-inequality, involved with Whitehall studies


Richard Wilkinson

-once financial threshold reached, higher income not associated with higher life expectancy
-in wealthy countries, average in come does not predict better health


Relative status

-Social experience and awareness of relative status
-Hierarchies are in themselves sources of stress
(Think non-human primates)
-Countries with high levels of social inequality cause individuals to worry about their social status, and the consequences of changing this status
-Overall health improves with redistribution of resources towards greater equality


social cohesion

-The shared values, goals, and distribution of resources within a society
-Permits individual participation of in social life, involvement in social activities and organizations
Characteristics of hierarchical societies:
-Less integration
-Fewer opportunities for social participation and network formation


social support

-Can ameliorate some of the negative effects of low status
-A form of ‘social capital’ in which ‘social resources’ can be drawn upon as needed