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  • 1. PSYCHOLOGY REVISION NOTES PSYA2 BIOLOGICALSTRESS as a BODILY RESPONSEThe stress response involves two major systems in the body.THE NERVOUS SYSTEM THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEMDivides into central and peripheral nervous systems (CNS System of glands that release hormones into theand PNS) bloodstream.CNS –neurons in spinal cord and brain These hormones control biological functions andPNS – neurons outside, carry info to and from body. behaviours including stress.Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) operates automatically The pituitary gland is the “master gland” and influences alland controls involuntary aspects of behaviour other parts of the system.ANS is in two parts – sympathetic branch (involved in The adrenal gland releases stress hormones includingarousing the body) and parasympathetic (relaxes body) corticosteroids, adrenaline and noradrenaline. THE SYMPATHOMEDULLARY (SAM) PATHWAY This pathway is involved in acute (short term) stress. Immediate stress activates the autonomic nervous system and the sympathetic branch sends a message to the adrenal medulla. The adrenal medulla releases adrenaline and noradrenaline, which prepares the body for the “flight or fight” response. The “flight or fight” response includes increasing oxygen and glucose supplies to the brain and muscles, while suppressing any non-essential processes such as digestion. The parasympathetic branch returns the body to normal resting state.THE HYPOTHALAMIC PITUITARY ADRENAL (HPA) SYSTEMThis pathway is involved in chronic (long term) stress.This is a chemical system not as fast as the SAM pathway. This mechanism prolongs the stressresponse.The hypothalamus readies the body for “flight or fight” and then signals the pituitary gland torelease ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone).When the adrenal cortex detects ACTH, it releases corticosteroids which help to clot blood andinfluence sugar and salt levels in the blood. This helps to prepare the body for long term stressorsby providing it with sources of energy. Results include decreased cognitive and immune systemfunctioning.
  • 2. STRESS RELATED ILLNESS and the IMMUNE SYSTEMKEY WORD DEFINITIONSImmune system Fights off invaders that cause disease (antigens)Antigens Foreign bodies such as bacteria, cancerous cells and viruses.Leucocytes White blood cells, which bind to the antigens and destroy them.Phagocytes A type of white blood cell which provides a general barrier against antigensT-Cells A type of lymphocyte (white blood cell), which attacks anything that carries disease into the body.B-Cells A type of lymphocyte (white blood cell), which tunes to a particular antigen and produces antibodies to destroy them.Antibodies Produced after prolonged stress. Overproduction of cortisol causes the immune system to be weakened and reducing leucocyte activity, leading to the production of antibodies (immunosuppression immunosuppression). immunosuppressionEVIDENCE which SUPPORTS the RELATIONSHIP between STRESS and CORONARY HEART DISEASEKrantz et al Investigated the link between mental stress and increase in myocardial ischemia (decrease in blood(1991) flow to the heart). 39 patients and 12 controls studied while doing three mental tasks (arithmetic, Stroop test and public speaking). The patients who displayed greatest myocardial ischemia during the tasks had higher blood pressure. Controls showed lowest signs of either. Suggests a link between mild stress and physiological activity harmful to the cardiovascular system.Williams (2000) To see if anger is linked to heart disease. 13000 people completed 10- question anger scale. Six years after the test, people who scored high on anger were 2 ½ times more likely to have a heart attack than those who scored low. People who scored ‘moderate’ were 35% more likely. Anger may lead to cardiovascular disorders.EVIDENCE which SUPPORTS the RELATIONSHIP between STRESS and ILLNESSKiecoult-Kiecoult -Glaser Took blood samples from students sitting stressful examinations and then asked them to completeet al (1984) questionnaires. Took measures of NK cells (like T-Cells) to measure immune system efficiency. Blood samples taken during exams showed lower NK count than when taken the month before. Questionnaires indicated that those reporting more stressful events had the lowest NK count. This suggests that the immune system is suppressed by exams and therefore the students were more vulnerable to illness. Also if they are experiencing a more stressful life, we are more vulnerable to the effect of external stressorsKiecoult-Kiecoult -Glaser Examined the speed of wounds healing in participants under chronic stress (caring for elderlyet al (1994) relatives). Participants matched on age and income (13 in experimental group, 13 controls) All Ps were given a “wound” (a punch biopsy) Measured level of cytokines (substances involved in regulating the body’s immune system) Found first complete wound healing took on average 9 days longer (24%) than the controls. Cytokine levels were lower in the carers and on a self-report carers said they felt stressed. SYSTEMEVALUATION of STRESS and the IMMUNE SYSTEMResearch is correlational. No cause and effect shown (i.e. does stress cause the illness or the illness cause stress?). It could bedue to other factors such as lifestyle choices.Often uses longitudinal data, which in turn can be gathered retrospectively and therefore the individual’s memory of thestressful event may be flawed.
  • 3. LIFE CHANGES AND DAILY HASSLESLIFE CHANGESRefers to occasional events which cause major adjustment to lifestyle.EVIDENCE relating to LIFE CHANGES and STRESSH olmes and Rahe Holmes and Rahe developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) by making a list of all(1967) the main stressful life events that they observed their patients experiencing around the same time as illness diagnosis. They recorded 43 events such as divorce, marriage, unemployment and gave each a value based on how many “Life Change Units” (LCUs) experiencing the events would result in. Scores were added up by asking people to record how many life events they had experienced in the last 6 months. Scores of over 300 = 80% chance of illness.Rahe et al (1970) Male US Navy officers completed the SRRS and were monitored for illness during a 6 month tour of duty. Higher total SRRS scores correlated positively with higher rates of illness, suggesting stressful life events are related to increased risk of illness.DAILY HASSLESRefers to everyday things that might add up to contribute to stress.EVIDENCE relating to DAILY HASSLES and STRESSKanner et al. Devised a hassles scale including 117 negative items and 135 positive items on an uplift scale. 100 ps(1981) studies over 12 months and it was found that hassles correlated with negative psychological symptoms and were a better indicators of illness than life changes.De Longis et Studied 75 married couples; found no relationship between Life Changes and health or uplifts and (1988)al. (1988) health. Hassles were associated with immediate health problems.Past Paper Questions
  • 4. WORKPLACE STRESSORSEVIDENCE relating to WORKLOAD as a WORKPLACE STRESSORWallace (1999) Lawyers reported increased conflict and stress at home when they were overloaded with work.Johannson et Found that Swedish sawmill workers whose jobs were repetitive and had a high workload, were moreal(1978) likely to suffer from stress and stress related illness. This was measured by taking urine samples to measure levels of stress hormones and days of absenteeism. The sample consisted of “finishers” whose job was to ensure the wood was finished and ready for shipping (without them the factory wouldn’t be paid) and they were compared to other workers in the factory and cleaners.Hobson and Managers at two factories were asked to complete questionnaires and work diaries. They found thatBeach (2000) stress/mental health was connected to perceptions of workload and not just workload itself. This indicates there is a cognitive element to stress.EVIDENCE relating to CONTROL as a WORKPLACE STRESSORLogan and Managers at work with supportive supervisors felt a greater sense of control in their job, leading toGanster (2005) greater job satisfaction and reduced stress.Johannson etal Found that Swedish sawmill workers whose jobs were repetitive and had low control over the pace of(1978) their work, which was machine led, were more likely to suffer from stress and stress related illness. This was measured by taking urine samples to measure levels of stress hormones and days of absenteeism. The sample consisted of “finishers” whose job was to ensure the wood was finished and ready for shipping (without them the factory wouldn’t be paid) and they were compared to other workers.Marmot et al Used questionnaires and health screenings to research stress in British Civil Servants and found that(1997) those with low job control were 3x more likely to suffer heart attacks than those with high job control. In contrast to other studies, they did not find a correlation between workload and stress.Past Paper Questions
  • 5. PERSONALITY FACTORSTYPE A AND TYPE B PERSONALITIESTYPE A Time urgent (does several things at once, constantly sets deadlines, low boredom threshold). Excessive competitiveness (achievement orientated, aggressive). General hostility (easily irritated, volatile displays self-anger)TYPE B Same degree of ambition as type A but characterised by a non-competitive manner, self-confident, relaxed, less hostile and not driven to achieve perfection.EVIDENCE relating TYPE A PERSONALITY to CORONARY HEART DISEASEFriedman and Measured personalities of over 3,500 healthy middle aged men over a 12 year period. Those whoRosenman (1974) scored highly on impatience, competitiveness, motivation for success were labelled as Type A with low scorers being Type B. Twice as many Type A personalities developed cardiovascular disorders, suggesting personality is a risk factor in developing stress related illness.Rosenman et al. The Western Collaborative Group Study (WCGS) followed 3,154 Californian men who were(1975) assessed as either Type A or B (or Type X, a mixture of A and B) and followed for 8 years. Type A personalities were twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease than Type B.Matthews and Found that hostility in Type A personalities was a more consistent predictor of CHD, especially inHaynes (1986) those who do not show their hostility. This was supported by Forshaw (2002) who found that hostility was the best predictor of CHD and Type A personality as a whole. STRESS-The LINK between TYPE A PERSONALITY and STRESS-RELATED ILLNESSOne theory is that a Type A personality is that their hearts are more sensitive to activity in the sympathetic nervous system– when a type A person gets stressed, their bodies are less able to cope with the physical changes and therefore stress relatedillness are more likely.Alternatively, some researchers argue that the stress responses (in particular the ‘fight or flight’ biological changes) are easierto trigger in a person with a Type A personality. As a result, they are more likely to have stress hormones present over along period of time, which increases the persons susceptibility to stress related problems.A slightly different view is that someone with a Type A personality is more likely to engage in stressful activities and jobs.This leads to a vicious circle as the personality exposes them to stressful environments, these environments lead topersistent stress, which then ultimately results in negative effects.HARDINESSHardiness A healthy personality type characterised by control, commitment and self-improvement. The higher someone is on a scale of hardiness, the less likely they will be to succumb to stress related illness.The HARDY PERSONALITY (Kobasa, 1979): The 3 C’sCommitment Have a sense of purpose and tackle problems head on.Control Be in charge of your life and don’t expect people to help you. Solve your own problems.Challenge Treat problems as a challenge and devote time and energy to solving them.EVIDENCE that SUPPORTS HARDINESSKobasa (1979) Found that highly stressed executives with low levels of illness had higher levels of hardiness. This suggests hardiness helps to protect against stress related illness.Droher (1995) Argues that hardiness reduces illness by enhancing immune system functioning.Maddi et al (1998) Managers who had received hardiness training had increased hardiness and job satisfaction, while also showing a decrease in illness. This was more effective than relaxation strategies and meditation.
  • 6. STRESS MANAGEMENTBIOLOGICAL METHODS of STRESS MANAGEMENT: DRUGS MANAGEMENT:Biological methods of stress management include the use of drugs, which affect neurotransmitter (NT) levels and effectcommunication between the neurons. Anti-anxiety drugs help to combat stress by slowing the central nervous system.DRUGS used to manage STRESSTREATMENT HOW IT WORKS EVIDENCEBenzodiazepines Increases the effect of the NT GABA in Davidson (1993) found that 78% of patients with(BZs) suppressing neural activity, which results in a social anxiety disorder improved with drug feeling of calm. They also dampen the excitatory treatments. After 2 years those who had been effect of serotonin, adding to the calming effect. treated with BZs showed more effective Recommended for short term use due to possible functioning. side effects including dependency.Beta-blockers Act upon beta-adrenergic receptors, which are Lau et al (1992) found that beta-blockers were(BBs) stimulated by adrenaline in the stress response and effective in reducing high blood pressure. They increase heart rate. Reduces heart rate and sense of reduced risk of death in heart disease patients by anxiety. They work immediately and aren’t 20%. addictive, but can cause side effects such as hallucinations and the extremities becoming cold. MANAGEMENTPSYCHOLOGICAL METHODS of STRESS MANAGEMENTTREATMENT HOW IT WORKS EVIDENCEStress-Stress- This is a cognitive behavioural method of stress Meichenbaum (1975) compared 3 groups ofinoculation management, which involves cognitive stressed pre-exam students. Group 1 received SIT,Therapy (SIT) restructuring to avoid the patient group 2, systematic desensitisation and group 3 “catastrophising” stressors (i.e. seeing things as no therapy. The SIT gave the most positive self- more stressful than they are). SIT is designed to reports and outperformed the others in their address these thought processes and cognitively exams. restructure emotional and behavioural responses. STRESS-STAGES of STRESS-INOCULATION THERAPYPhase DescriptionConceptualisation Patient is asked what about the situation causes stress and asked how would they cope?Training and Rehearsal Patient is taught coping skills, including self-instruction, direct action (i.e. escape) and cognitive coping (i.e. positive coping statements are learned to counteract negative ones)Application and follow through Patients apply strategies to real world and receive follow up sessions if needed.Past Paper Quest ions QuestionsNB You can also include biofeedback (biological) and hardiness training (psychological) as methods of stressmanagement.
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