Chapter 5 Stress, Psychological Factors, and Health Stress, Psychological Factors, and Health Health psychologist - A psychologist who studies the role of psychological factors in physical illness. Stress - A demand made on an organism to adapt or adjust. Stressor - A source of stress. 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. Subtypes of Adjustment disorders Stress and illness 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. PNI Psychoneuroimmunology studies relationships between psychological factors, especially stress, and the workings of the endocrine system, the immune system, and the nervous system Stress and the 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. Major glands of the endocrine system The glands of the endocrine pour their secretions?called hormones?directly into the bloodstream. Although hormones may travel throughout the body, they act only on specific receptor sites. Many hormones are implicated in stress reactions and various patterns of abnormal behavior. Stress and the Immune System Immune system - The body?s 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. The war within Immune system - The body?s system of defense against disease. White blood cells, shown here (colored purple) attacking and engulfing a pathogen, form the major part of the body?s system of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other invading organisms. Terrorism-Related Trauma The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America changed everything. 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. Terrorism-Related Trauma The General Adaptation Syndrome General adaptation syndrome (GAS) - The body?s three-stage response to states of prolonged or intense stress. Fight-or-flight reaction - The inborn tendency to respond to a threat by either fighting or fleeing. Stress and Life Changes 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: Making It in America Acculturative stress - Pressure to adjust to a host or mainstream culture. Psychological Factors That Moderate Stress Stress may be a fact of life, but the ways in which we handle stress help determine our ability to cope with it. Individuals react differently to stress depending on psychological factors such as the meaning they ascribe to stressful events. Styles of Coping Emotion-focused coping - A coping style that attempts to minimize emotional responsiveness rather than deal with the stressor directly. Problem-focused coping - A coping style that attempts to confront the stressor directly. Self-efficacy expectancies - Beliefs in one?s ability to accomplish particular tasks. Coping with stress. Psychologically hardy people appear to cope more effectively with stress by adopting active, problem solving approaches and by perceiving themselves as choosing high-stress situations. Optimism Among heart disease patients, optimistic attitudes are associated with less emotional distress. Among cancer patients, optimism is associated with lower levels of emotional distress, better psychological adjustment, and lower levels of reported pain. Among pregnant women, it is linked to better birth outcomes, such as higher infant birth weights. Optimism Positive psychology - A growing contemporary movement within psychology that focuses on the positive attributes of human behavior. The developers of this movement 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, and violence. Social Support The role of social support as a buffer against stress is well documented . Ethnic Identity The particular stressors that African Americans often face, such as racism, poverty, violence, and overcrowded living conditions, may contribute to their heightened risks of serious health-related problems. Ethnic identity is associated with perceptions of a better quality of life among African Americans and appears to be more strongly related to psychological well-being among African Americans than among White Americans. Headaches Headaches are symptoms of many medical disorders. When they occur in the absence of other symptoms, however, they may be classified as stress-related. By far the most frequent kind of headache is the tension headache. Theoretical Perspectives The underlying causes of headaches remain unclear and subject to continued study. One factor contributing to tension headaches may be increased sensitivity of the neural pathways that send pain signals to the brain from the face and head. Migraines headaches may involve an underlying central nervous system disorder involving nerves and blood vessels in the brain. The neurotransmitter serotonin is also implicated. Migraine! Migraine headaches involve intense throbbing pain on one side of the head. They may be triggered by many factors, such as hormonal changes, exposure to strong light, changes in barometric pressure; hunger, exposure to pollen, red wine, and use of certain drugs and even monosodium glutamate (MSG). Treatment Biofeedback training (BFT) - A method of feeding back to the individual information about bodily functions so that the person can gain some degree of control over these functions. Cardiovascular Disease Cardiovascular disease - A disease or disorder of the cardiovascular system, such as coronary heart disease or hypertension. Coronary heart disease (CHD) - is the major form of cardiovascular disease, accounting for about 700,000 deaths annually, mostly from heart attacks. CVD is the leading cause of death for both men and women, claiming even more women?s lives than breast cancer. Negative Emotions Frequent emotional distress in the form of anger, anxiety, and depression can have damaging effects on the cardiovascular system. Type A behavior pattern (TABP) - A behavior pattern characterized by a sense of time urgency, competitiveness, and hostility. Emotions and the heart. Emotional stress in the form of persistent negative emotions, such as anxiety and anger, is a risk factor in heart related problems. Cancer The word cancer is arguably the most feared word in the English language, and rightly so: One of every four deaths in the United States is caused by cancer. Men have a one in two chance of developing cancer at some point in their lives; for women the odds are one in three. Cancer Cancer involves the development of aberrant, or mutant, cells that form growths (tumors) that spread to healthy tissue. Stress and Cancer A weakened or compromised immune system may increase susceptibility to cancer. Cancer patients may benefit from training programs that focus on developing coping skills, such as relaxation, stress management, and coping thoughts, to help relieve the stress and pain of coping with cancer. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV attacks the immune system, leaving it helpless to fend off diseases it normally would hold in check. HIV/AIDS is one of history?s worst epidemics. Adjustment of People with HIV and AIDS Coping-skills training and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help improve psychological functioning, ability to handle stress, and quality of life among patients with HIV/AIDS and reduce their feelings of depression and anxiety. Treatment may incorporate training in stress-management techniques, such as self-relaxation and positive mental imagery, and cognitive strategies to control intrusive negative thoughts and preoccupations. The importance of stress management skills is highlighted by findings that stressful life events and passive coping (use of denial) were associated with faster progression to AIDS in HIV infected men. Psychological Interventions to Reduce Risky Behaviors Providing information about risk reduction alone is not sufficient to induce widespread changes in sexual behavior. Psychological interventions are effective in helping people alter these risky behaviors. These programs raise people?s awareness about risky behaviors and help them develop more adaptive behaviors, such as learning how to refuse invitations Preventing AIDS Maintaining lifelong celibacy. Remaining in a lifelong monogamous relationship with an uninfected person who is doing the same thing. Being discerning in one?s choice of sex partners. Being assertive with sex partners. Inspecting one?s partner?s sex organs. Using latex condoms. Using spermicides. Consulting a physician following suspected exposure to a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Seeking regular medical checkups. Avoiding sexual activity if there are doubts about safety. The End
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