Chapter 13: Health, Stress, & Coping

internal processes that occur as people try to adjust to events and situations, especially those that they perceive to be beyond their coping capacity
events or situations to which people must adjust
the actual physical events or situations
Stress Reaction
physical, psychological, and behavioral responses that occur in the face of a stressor
Process of Stress
stress reactions
stress mediators
(the components affect one another)
Major Psychological Stressors
any event that forces a person to adapt
life changes and strains (divorce; illness; difficulties at work)
catastrophic events (sexual/physical assault; natural disasters)
daily problems (irritations; pressures; annoyances)
chronic problems (living in poverty; having a serious illness)
Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)
stress= sum of recent life change units (LCUs or life changing units)
the more your life has changed, the more exposure to stress that you have
Life Experiences Survey
measures life events and cognitive appraisals
new stressors may be added by respondents
asks about the relevance of the events
personalized approach for capturing the different impact and meaning that experiences may have for people
Face-to-Face Interviews
ask each individual to describe their stress
ask about how they cope with each event
General Adaptation Syndrome
physical stress response
Hans Selye
a three-stage pattern of responses triggered by the effort to adapt to any stressor
1. alarm stage: fight-or-flight syndrome
2. resistance stage: body is mobilized and it starts coping long term
3. exhaustion stage: body is no longer able to cope
psychological stress response
anxiety, tense, fatigue, depression
psychological stress response
catastrophizing: dwell on a stressor; think it cannot be overcome
ruminative thinking: doing a task with something interfering
mental sets: narrow-mindedness (using long way to solve problem)
functional fixedness: not thinking clearly (situation like fire)
impaired decision making: narrow-mindedness
cognitive flooding: sudden, temporary inability to think at all
behavioral stress response
less able to control behavioral responses
example: road rage
behavioral stress response
gradually intensifying pattern of physical, psychological, and behavioral dysfunction in response to a continuous flow of stressors
being exposed to the same stress every day (chronic stress)
example: common among individuals who do people work such as teacher and nurses; those who perceive themselves a being treated unjustly by employers
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
pattern of adverse and disruptive reactions following a traumatic event
response to catastrophic event
example: most common in military men and women; usually experience flashback from catastrophic events
Cognitive Appraisal
stress mediator
impact depends on how stressor are perceived
less intense if seen as challenges to be overcome
stress mediator
unpredictable stressors have more impact (pop quiz)
if people can exert some control over stressors, they usually have less impact (regulating own pain medication)
feeling a lack of control may promote physical and psychological problems (helplessness)
Perception of Control
stress mediator
simply believing that a stressor is controllable even if it isn’t, can also reduce its impact
perceived lack of control may partly explain elevated risk for early death among people in lower socioeconomic groups (people living in poverty)
Coping Resources
stress mediator
problem-focused coping strategies (for problems that you are able to confront or to change): confronting; seeking social support; planful problem solving
emotion-focused coping strategies (for problems that you are unable to confront or to change): self-controlling; distancing (study for one exam and then take a break to get your mind off of it); positive reappraisal; accepting responsibility; escape/avoidance (wishful thinking or daydreaming)
Social Support
one of the most important stress mediators
expression of pent-up thoughts and emotions
important to know that others care and will help
quality of support may depend on own ability to cope
possible problems: having too much support; having the wrong kind of support; may depend on the kind of stressor being encountered
the interaction of psychological, social, behavioral, neural, hormonal, and immune system processes that affect the body’s defenses against disease
stress can affect the body’s reaction to disease (can impair or suppress the immune system)
autoimmune disorders (immune system cells attack and destroy normal body cells; ex: arthritis, diabetes, and lupus)
Immune System
body’s first line of defense against invading substances and microorganisms
white blood cells
T-cells: (formed in the thymus) kill other cells
B-cells: (mature in bone marrow) produce antibodies
Natural killer cells: destroy a variety of foreign organisms (important in antiviral and anti-tumor functioning)
engulf and digest foreign cells
phagocytosis or eating cells
Cardiovascular System
repeated activation of the symphayho-adreno-medullary system (SAM) is linked to development of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke
mediated by personality (better to be more laid back)
role of hostility in coronary heart disease
Rosenstock’s Health Belief Model
decisions about health-related behaviors are guided by four main factors
1. perceiving a personal threat or susceptibility
2. perceiving the seriousness and consequences of an illness
3. belief that changing behavior will reduce the threat
4. perceived costs and benefits of changing
Prochaska’s Stages of Readiness
changing health behaviors with five stages of readiness
1. pre-contemplation: don’t perceive that there is health problem and have no intention of changing life style
2. contemplation: aware there is health problem and think about changing life style
3. preparation: strong intention of change; have a plan
4. action: engaging in successful behavior change
5. maintenance: healthy behavior has continued for at least six months and uses skills to prevent relapse
Cognitive Coping Strategy
stop catastrophizing and being irrational (make thoughts positive)
change perception of threats into challenges
remember that even if the cognitive appraisal can’t do away with the stressor, it can lessen it
Emotional Coping Strategy
get social support
remember that the feeling of being cared for and valued can protect against stress
Behavioral Coping Strategy
change your behavior to minimize stress
Physical Coping Strategy
learn progressive relaxation technique or meditation or yoga
alter physical responses to stress with prescription drugs
Health Psychology
field in which psychologists conduct and apply research aimed at promoting human health and preventing illness
Disease of Adaptation
illnesses that are caused or worsened by stressors
Disease-Resistant Personalities
help insulate people from the ill effects of stress
these people tend to think of stressors as temporary challenges to be overcome
do not constantly blame themselves for brining them about
have dispositional optimism
Disease-Prone Personalities
lead them to try to ignore stressors when possible
perceive stressors as long-term and catastrophic threats that they brought on themselves
pessimistic about their ability to overcome stressors
Dispositional Optimism
the belief or expectation that things will turn out positively
Hostility and Heart Disease
important in understanding the chief cause of death in the US and most other Western nations
increased SNS activation puts strain on coronary arteries and leads to surges of stress-related hormones from adrenal glands
high levels of hormones associated with increase in cholesterol and other fatty substances deposited in arteries and contribute to coronary heart disease
although available evidence association, it cannot be confirmed that hostility is causing heart disease
Health Promotion
process of altering or eliminating behaviors that pose risks to health, as well as encouraging healthy behavior patterns
Changeable and Unchangeable Stressors
knowing the difference is important
stress-related problems are especially common among people who either exhaust themselves trying to change unchangeable stressors or miss opportunities to change stressors that can be changed
Cognitive Restructuring
replacing catastrophic thinking with thoughts in which stressors are viewed as challenges rather than threats
1. identify upsetting thoughts
2. develop and practice more constructive thought to use when under stress
chapter 3: biological aspects of psychology
chapter 15: psychological disorders
chapter 18: social influence
Personality and Health
Howard Freidman
identify aspects of personality that increase the likelihood of premature death from heart disease, high blood pressure , or other chronic diseases
conscientiousness (social dependability) one of most important predictors of long life turned out to be a personality dimension
conscientiousness and stability in social relationships crease a general attitude of caution that goes beyond eating right and avoiding substance abuse (want high conscientiousness and stability to live longer)
males under stress tend to get angry, avoid stressors, or both, whereas females were more likely to help others and to make sure of their social support networks
men’s physiological responses, including changes in heart rate and blood pressure tend to be more intense than women’s
women’s tend-and-befriend vs. men’s fight-or-flight shows how hormones combine during stress like oxytocin (causes increased stressors in men, but reduces stressors in women)
might be why women live (5-10 years) longer than men