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Psych 202 Stress and Health

by: Kaylee Olson

Psych 202 Stress and Health Psychology 202

Kaylee Olson

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Stress and health notes
Introduction to Psychology
Caton Roberts
Class Notes
stress, health, Psychology
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This 12 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kaylee Olson on Friday September 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psychology 202 at University of Wisconsin - Madison taught by Caton Roberts in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Psychology in Psychology at University of Wisconsin - Madison.


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Date Created: 09/16/16
9/13/16, 9/15/16 From Personality to Stress “Stress­reactivity” is an individual difference factor, a predisposing “Trait”  some people may be more disposed to perceive events as hassles  some people are more disposed to experience major stressful events o People who are violent are more likely to get into trouble o Lonely, neurotic, disagreeable Three examples:     1)  Optimism  the trait of “optimism” is associated with the following empirical  findings: o less illness symptoms in college and beyond o more active approach to stress and problem solving o higher levels of academic success and performance o more likely to complete treatment programs for alcoholism  o more likely to make quick, full recovery from coronary bypass  surgery o Immune system functioning of optimists is higher o Optimists respond to stressors with smaller increases in blood  pressure o Cardiac patients with minimal optimism (higher “hopelessness”)  have higher rates of new heart attacks and are twice as likely to die than persons with low hopelessness (as seen in next figure). 9/13/16, 9/15/16 2) Self­Efficacy (Albert Bandura) Definition: Belief they have control in their abilities to complete tasks You completed the “Generalized Self Efficacy Scale”:  10 items with  Response Format:  1 = Not at all true   2 = Hardly true   3 = Moderately true   4 = Exactly true 3) Hardiness e.g., “hardiness” is a trait of people who demonstrate:   commitment (sense of purpose/involvement with work and family)  challenge (openness to new experiences and desire to embrace them)  control (belief that one has power to influence important future  outcomes—high “self­efficacy” and low “learned helplessness”)  high in self­efficacy Appraisal of Challenge and Control:    There are differences in how we experience the world  Appraisal: evaluating experience o Threatened by event­ panic/freeze up, anxious o Challenged by event­ Aroused, focused  hardy people experience less stressful hassles  hardy people also respond to threat and challenge with less  physiological stress 9/13/16, 9/15/16 Optimism, Self­Efficacy, and Hardiness reflect Low Stress­Reactivity Pessimistic, Low Self­Efficacy, Low Hardiness, and Highly Neurotic and  Disagreeable persons have higher Stress­Reactivity  High Stress­reactivity is correlated with diverse symptoms of  psychopathology, mental disorder, personal distress, and reduced  physical health What is “Stress”? Hans Selye distinguished “Stressors” From “Stress” Selye Pioneered Stress Research in the 1950’s, examining its role in health  and disease Selye Video:  Diseases may not have specific stress, but rather caused by non­ specific stress  High levels of prolonged stress can cause disease, exhaustion, and  even premature death Selye’s Distinctions: A Stressor is: “a stimulus­event that produces a stress response” Where are our “stressors”?  External stressors:  e.g., loss of job, relationship problems, classes not  going well…  Internal stressors:  e.g., chronic self criticism/depressive  thinking/social anxiety/hostility etc (i.e., unstable emotionality or  “neuroticism”), chronic circulating stress­hormones (dysregulated  HPA Axis)   Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis 9/13/16, 9/15/16 o Stressful event­ brain processes the situation o Hypothalamic sends CRF (Corticotrophin Releasing Factor) to pituitary gland o Anterior pituitary gland sends ACTH to bloodstream Stress is: “the nonspecific response of the organism to any pressure or  demand” Selye’s “General Adaptation Syndrome” (GAS): 3 phases of physiological stress­response (note that multiple neurobiologic  and hormonal response processes are mobilized, activated, and engaged for  various lengths of time): Alarm  Immediate response  Sympathetic Nervous System: designed to active you when you need  to be activated, ex. Being threatened with a gun o Adrenaline Resistance  Lasts until stress is overcome o Stress can last longer, however, and cause exhaustion Exhaustion  Effects of Chronically Elated Cortisol  Decrease immune function  Decrease Hippocampal Neurogenesis  Increase visceral fat  Increase arterial plaque So, in Selye’s view stress is the total response of your organism (mind and  body) to whatever stressors you experience  Internal dimensions: personality But I’m arguing that our self­produced behavior (responses) constitute actual stressors, too, so the inner/outer distinction is fuzzy That said, some stressors clearly originate externally and produce objective  physiologic consequences: 9/13/16, 9/15/16 Stress is Objective AND Subjective Two Classes of “Objective” Stressors:   1) Major Life Events  2) Daily Hassles Holmes and Rahe’ developed the “Social Readjustment Rating Scale”  (SRRS) as an objective checklist of Major Life Events: Death of Spouse                     = 100 Divorce                                   = 73 Jail/Prison term                       = 63 Death of close family member = 63 Marriage                                  = 50 Loss of job                               = 47 ... Death of close friend                = 36 Child Leaving Home                 = 29 Change in Status @ Work        = 29 Transfer to a new school          =20 Minor law violations (ticket)      = 11 What is a “Daily Hassle” and how is it a “stressor”? Class generated List of Daily Hassles:  Traffic  Homework  Upcoming exams Research shows Objective Effects:  people with large #’s of hassles are more emotionally distressed Stressful Life Events affect us through the daily hassles they produce MLE effects on persons vulnerable to depression: 9/13/16, 9/15/16  The likelihood of experiencing depression goes up as major life events increase (After 3 it’s almost guaranteed) Stress objectively affects physiology, too rd Objective Physiology of Stress in 3  Graders: Fig. 10.6 3  Graders Study:  The rates of adrenaline and cortisol are higher in noisy areas CFR= Corticotrophin Releasing Factor  ACTH= Adrenocorticotropic Hormone Point:  When you are aroused by stress (e.g. you see a spider or snake or  neighborhood bully; or you imagine being criticized by someone; or you get  tensed up when thinking about your upcoming exams and papers, etc), your  sympathetic nervous system is aroused (e.g. adrenaline is being released,  heart rate is up, blood sugar is increased, digestion is inhibited, etc) which  causes your hypothalamus to release CRF which, in turn,  stimulates the  Anterior Pituitary to release ACTH into the bloodstream which stimulates  the adrenal glands to release glucocorticoids, including the famous stress  hormone cortisol. Cortisol is essential to managing short term stress, but  when chronically present creates various disturbances in parameters in  healthy functioning  Stress­Hypothalamus­CRH­Anterior Pituitary­ACTH­Adrenal glands­Cortisol Consequences (immune functioning is diminished, hippocampal neurogenesis might be  inhibited, visceral fat and arterial plaques develop, etc.). Stress is an objective Response 9/13/16, 9/15/16  (or a set of responses; it’s an end­state): Physiological and Psychological Stress­Responses (stress­reactions) develop in relation to challenging events (stressors) experienced by individuals.   These Stress­Reactions often become chronically present and may  include:  Physiological production of stress­hormones (e.g., adrenaline,  cortisol)  Negative cognitive appraisals (perception of harm and threat)  Behavioral habits non­conducive to health (patterns of sleep, eating,  drug and alcohol use, physical activity, maladaptive recruitment of  social support)  Emotional habits/tendencies toward emotional instability­ Neuroticism/over­reactivity (chronic irritability, anger, guilt, worry) And Subjectivity Matters, too:   The Impact of Major Life Events Depends on Individual Differences in: 1) Appraisal  How we evaluate the event  Primary: immediate  Secondary: Is it really as bad as it seems? Reconsidering 2) Coping (Problem Solving Approaches, Style of Emotional Coping)  Emotion­focused: Avoiding facing the situation, usually makes it  worse  Problem­focused: Taking the problem on directly, more effective Consider different persons responses to:  Divorce  Sudden Unemployment  Disease­onset 9/13/16, 9/15/16 All Life­Events Represent Potential Stressors and are “Appraised” 3 kinds of appraisals are possible to challenge:   1. Harm (a damaging event has occurred) 2. Threat (a potential future harm is appraised as approaching) 3. Challenge (events appraised as opportunities rather than threats) Harm and Threat Appraisals induce psychological stress Perception AppraisalEmotions/Coping Coping, and negative emotions, and “stress­reactivity” depend heavily  on: 1)  the personality (cognitive­style and trait organization) of the perceiver 2) the non­personality produced mental and behavioral habits of the  perceiver (stress­management styles and skills)  People can learn to respond to Stress: Stress­Management Stress is both a Response and a Process of Adjustment Stress­reactions are not static!  They are continually, dynamically produced  as functions of cognitive re­appraisal, behavioral coping, and emotional re­ processing.  We appraise all events, and in so­appraising we express core  personality traits (levels of optimism, self­efficacy, hardiness,  neuroticism, agreeableness, stress­reactivity, etc.) 9/13/16, 9/15/16  Personality traits that create vulnerability to stress­reactions {e.g. low  self­efficacy, low optimism, high pessimism, high neuroticism, high  stress­reactivity} can be modulated* with concentrated focus on  behavioral and emotional health  o Personality can be tuned o Modulate­secondary appraisal (balanced living through exercise and intake; healthy relationships;  consistent efforts to examine and modify negative mental habits of appraisal  and emotional processing) *modulate One entry found for modulate. Main Entry: mod∙u∙late   Pronunciation: 'mä­j&­"lAt Function: verb Inflected Form(s): ­lat∙ed; ­lat∙ing Etymology: Latin modulatus, past participle of modulari to play, sing, from  modulus small measure, rhythm, diminutive of modus measure ­­ more at  METE transitive senses 1 : to tune to a key or pitch 2 : to adjust to or keep in proper measure or proportion : TEMPER intransitive senses 1 : to play or sing with modulation 2 : to pass from one musical key into another by means of intermediary  chords or notes that have some relation to both keys 3 : to pass gradually from one state to another Practicing seeing events as challenges, and the self as capable of managing  ability to cope, reduces stress  Is it really as bad as I think it is?  Become less panicked and become more aroused and focused 9/13/16, 9/15/16 Psychotherapy and Meditation target re­appraisal of our experiences, along  with developing new coping skills  Create positive emotional habits  Be more tolerant Therapy and Stress­Management target positive emotional modulation  So Stress­Management targets the positive modulation of personality  dispositions   Remember:  personality dispositions were defined earlier as  “individual’s distinct and relatively enduring pattern of thoughts,  feelings, motives, and behaviors”   Appraisal modulates stress through “thoughts” (and emotions)  Coping modulates stress through “behaviors” (and emotions) Can Happiness Be Developed? Sukha: enduring happiness  Can be developed no matter your personality  Trait that arises from a mind that has been trained over 1000s of hours of meditation  We tend to distort reality – Sukha sees reality the way it actually is Consider: “Agreeableness” and “Neuroticism” What would it take to increase one’s level of agreeableness and reduce  neuroticism? Look at your facet/subtrait scores on both dimensions from the Five­Factor  Personality Test you took on­line.  Trust:  9/13/16, 9/15/16  When we complain about somebody, it tends to be more about  yourself (Projection) Could you modulate agreeableness to be higher and neuroticism to be lower? How? Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program—MBSRP  Mindfully Notice your sensory­physical experience:  Pleasant Events  Unpleasant Events  What bodily sensations and thoughts attend the experiences?  As you pay attention to a positive experience, you appreciate the  moment more o Savoring  As you pay attention to a negative experience, you recognize the  distortions Practice­Actualize Mindful Attitudes in daily life:  Acceptance  Trust  Patience  Non­judgment  Letting­Go  Beginner’s Mind  Non­Striving (but not goal­less­ness!!) May not have made them happier, but it made them less unhappy What does Mindfulness Do? Was anyone able to mindfully attend to an unpleasant event as it occurred? What happened as you attended and took notice? Pleasant events? The Target is: Afflictive Emotions and Personality 9/13/16, 9/15/16 Almost all religions focus on fixing our problems 1) Craving 2) Hatred 3) Delusions of Independent Selfhood (Ego?) What Builds the Trait of Enduring Happiness?  Attending to states of afflictive emotion  Attending to states of pleasure and unpleasure  Developing Equanimity and Compassion  Decreasing Neuroticism and Disagreeableness Love, making others around you happy Fig. 10.20  People who practice gratitude are happier people Fig. 10.17  The more people reported being distrustful of others, the more they  reported being in fair or poor health


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