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29 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

Health psychologist

A psychologist who studies the interrelationships between psychological factors in physical illness.




• Stress – A demand made on an organism to adapt or adjust.

• Stressor – A source of stress.

-can be psychological factors, or daily hassles

Distress - state of physical or mental pain or suffering

Stress and Health


• Psychological sources of stress not only diminish our capacity for adjustment, but also may adversely affect our health.

• Stress is associated with an increased risk of various types of physical illness, ranging from digestive disorders to heart disease.

• The field of psychoneuroimmunology studies relationships between psychological factors, especially stress, and the workings of the immune system.

Endocrine system


Endocrine system – The system of ductless glands that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream.

Hormones – Substances secreted by endocrine

glands that regulate body functions and promote

growth and development.

Stress and the Endocrine System

• Stress has a domino effect on the endocrine system.

• Several endocrine glands are involved in the

body's response to stress.

Stress and the Immune System

(& Leukocytes)

Prolonged stress can eventually weaken the body’s immune system (Fan et al., 2009; Kemeny, 2003).

Immune system – The bodys system of defense against disease.

Leukocytes are white blood cells that systematically envelop and kill pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, worn-out body cells, and cells that have become cancerous.

Leukocytes recognize invading pathogens by their surface fragments, called antigens, literally antibody generators.

Writing about stress & trauma

(as a coping response)

is a positive coping response that can have positive effects on both psychological and physical health (Frattaroli, 2006).

studies have shown that participants assigned to an expressive writing program reported fewer psychological and physical symptoms than control participants

Body's response to stress

1. hypothalamus releases a hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland

2. pituitary gland secretes ACTH

3. ACTH stimulates adrenal glands

4. adrenal cortex releases cortical steroids

Terrorism-Related Trauma

•Ex: The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks

• Before 9/11 we may have felt secure in our homes, offices, and other public places from the threat of terrorism.

• But now, terrorism looms as a constant threat to our safety and sense of security.

The General Adaptation Syndrome

(& 1 stage)

• General adaptation syndrome (GAS) – The body's three-stage response to states of prolonged or excessive stress.

Alarm reaction – The first stage of the GAS,

characterized by heightened sympathetic activity.

Fight-or-flight reaction – The inborn tendency torespond to a threat by either fighting or fleeing.

Changes in the Body associated with the Alarm reaction:

1. Cortico steroids are released

2. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are released

3. heart rate, reparation rate, & blood pressure increase

4. muscles tense

5. blood shifts from internal organs to the skeletal muscles

6. digestion is inhibited

7. sugar is released by liver

8. blood-clotting ability is increased

GAS (2nd & 3rd stage)

Resistance stage – The second stage of the GAS, in which endocrine and sympathetic nervous system responses remain at high levels, but not quite as high as during the alarm reaction.

Exhaustion stage – The third stage of the GAS,

characterized by lowered resistance, increased

parasympathetic activity, and eventual physical


Stress and Life Changes

• Researchers have investigated the stress–illness

connection by quantifying life stress in terms of life changes (also called life events).

• Life changes are sources of stress because they force us to adjust.

• They include both positive events (such as getting married) and negative events (such as the death of a loved one).

Acculturative Stress:

Pressure to adjust to a host or

mainstream culture.

One of the primary sources of stress on immigrant groups, or on native groups living in the larger mainstream culture, is the need to adapt to a new culture.

immigrants, native groups, and ethnic minority

groups adjust to the new culture or majority culture through making behavioral and attitudinal changes.

(sometimes leads to erosion of traditional family networks & traditional values)

Acculturative Stress: among hispanic americans

Hispanic (Latino) Americans psychological risks associated with acculturation:

– Increased risk of heavy drinking among women.

– Increased risk of smoking and sexual intercourse among adolescents.

– Increased risk of disturbed eating behaviors.

Styles of Coping

Emotion-focused coping – A coping style that

involves reducing the impact of a stressor by

ignoring or escaping it rather than dealing with it directly.

Problem-focused coping – A coping style that

involves confronting a stressor directly.

Self-efficacy expectancies – Beliefs in one's

ability to cope with challenges and to accomplish

particular tasks.

Psychological Hardiness

Psychological hardiness – A cluster of stress buffering traits characterized by commitment,

challenge, and control.

• Three key traits distinguished the psychologically hardy executives:

– 1. Commitment

– 2. Challenge

– 3. Control over their lives

-These people appear to cope better with stress by adopting active, problem solving approaches and by perceiving themselves as choosing high-stress situations

Optimism & Stress

linked to better physical health and emotional


-links greater optimism in women to lower rates of heart disease and greater longevity

-Pain patients who express more pessimistic thoughts during flare-ups tend to report more severe pain and distress

Positive psychology

A growing contemporary movement within psychology that focuses on the positive attributes of human behavior.

believe that psychology should focus more of its efforts on the positive aspects of the human experience, rather than just the deficit side of the human equation, (such as problems of emotional disorders, drug abuse & violence)

Social Support & stress

social support can be a buffer against stress

People with a broad network of social relationships not only show greater resistance to fending off the common cold but also tend to live longer.

may also help protect the bodes immune system by serving as a buffer against stress.

Ethnic Identity of African Americans & stress

• African Americans stand a greater risk, of suffering chronic health problems, such as obesity,hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

The particular stressors that African Americans often face, such as racism, poverty, violence, and overcrowded living conditions, may contribute to their risks

Adjustment Disorders

Adjustment disorder – A maladaptive reaction to an identified stressor, characterized by impaired functioning or emotional distress that exceeds what would normally be expected.

traumatic disorders

Traumatic experiences can lead to the development of traumatic stress disorders, which are characterized by:

maladaptive patterns of behavior in response to

trauma that involve marked personal distress or

significant impairment of functioning.

Acute stress disorder (ASD)

A traumatic stress reaction in which the person shows a maladaptive pattern of behavior for a period of three days to one month following exposure to a traumatic event.

People with acute stress disorder may feel they are "in a daze" or that the world seems like a dreamlike or unreal place.

-may occur in response to battlefield trauma or exposure to natural or technological disasters.

Stronger or more persistent symptoms of dissociation around the time of the trauma is associated with a greater likelihood of later development of PTSD.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

A prolonged maladaptive reaction to a traumatic event.

(more than 30 days!)

PTSD similar to acute stress disorder, but persists for months, or even years after traumatic event

-exposure to combat, or terrorist attacks links to PTSD but,

-most common: serious motor accidents

Theoretical Perspectives of traumatic disorders

major conceptual understanding of PTSD derives from behavioral or learning perspective.

-classical conditioning: traumatic experiences are unconditioned stimuli that become paired with neutral (conditioned) stimuli (such as the sights, sounds, and even smells associated with the trauma)

anxiety becomes a conditioned response that is

elicited by exposure to trauma-related stimuli.

Treatment Approaches for PTSD

(what type of therapy?)

• Cognitive-behavioral therapy has produced impressive results in treating PTSD.

• The basic treatment component is repeated exposure to cues and emotions associated with the trauma.

• In CBT, the person gradually reexperiences the

anxiety associated with the traumatic event in a safe setting, thereby allowing extinction to take its course.

Treatment Approaches for PTSD

(prolonged exposure) (drugs)

prolonged exposure, in which the person

repeatedly reexperiences the traumatic event in

imagination or in real life without seeking to escape from the anxiety.

• Treatment with antidepressant drugs, such as

sertraline (Zoloft) or paroxetine (Paxil), may help

reduce the anxiety components of PTSD

(problems with drugs = treating symptoms, not root cause)

Treatment Approaches for PTSD


• Eye movement desensitization & reprocessing (EMDR) – A controversial form of therapy for PTSD that involves eye tracking of a visual target while holding images of the traumatic experience in mind.

• Evidence from controlled studies demonstrates the therapeutic benefits of EMDR in treating PTSD.

​-but! researches can't explain why this works