Chapter 11 Health, Stress, and Coping Health Psychology Health Psychology: Uses behavioral principles to prevent illness and promote health Behavioral Medicine: Applies psychology to manage medical problems Example: asthma and diabetes Lifestyle Diseases: Diseases related to health-damaging personal habits Example: Stroke and lung cancer Behavioral Risk Factors Behaviors that increase the chances of disease, injury, or premature death Disease-Prone Personality: Personality type associated with poor health Person tends to be chronically depressed, anxious, and hostile Ways to Promote Health and Early Prevention Goal is to remove behavioral risk factors Refusal Skills Training: Program that teaches young people how to resist pressures to begin smoking Can be applied to other drugs and health risks Life Skills Training: Teaches stress reduction, self-protection, decision making, self-control, and social skills Ways to Promote Health and Early Prevention (Continued) Community Health Campaigns: Community-wide education projects designed to lessen major risk factors Wellness: Positive state of good health and well-being Stress, Frustration, and Conflict Stress Mental and physical condition that occurs when a person must adjust or adapt to the environment Includes marital and financial problems Eustress: good stress Stress Reaction: Physical reaction to stress Autonomic Nervous System is aroused Short-term vs. long-term stresses General Adaptation Syndrome (G.A.S.) Impact of Long-Term Stress: G.A.S. is a series of bodily reactions to prolonged stress Alarm Reaction: The pituitary gland signals the adrenal glands to produce more adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol Stage of Resistance: Bodily adjustments stabilize Symptoms of alarm reaction disappear Stage of Exhaustion: Continuous stress leads to draining of the body?s resources and depletion of stress hormones Signs of Stress Emotional Signs: Anxiety, apathy, irritability, and mental fatigue Behavioral Signs: Avoidance of responsibilities and relationships Extreme or self-destructive behavior Poor judgment Physical Signs: Excessive worry about illness Frequent illness and exhaustion Overuse of medication Physical ailments and complaints Psychoneuroimmunology The study of links among behavior, stress, disease, and the immune system Studies show that immune function is lowered during final exams, divorce, bereavement, job loss, and poor sleep Happiness, laughter, and delight strengthen the immune system Burnout Job-related condition (usually in helping professions) of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion Emotional Exhaustion: Feel ?used up? and apathetic toward work Cynicism: Detachment from the job Feeling of reduced personal accomplishment How to Manage a Threat Primary Appraisal: Deciding if a situation is relevant or irrelevant, positive or threatening Secondary Appraisal: Assess resources and decide how to meet the threat or challenge Perceived lack of control is just as threatening as an actual lack of control Coping With Threats Emotion-Focused Coping: Trying to control one?s emotional reactions to the threatening or stressful situation Problem-Focused Coping: Managing or correcting the distressing situation Frustration Negative emotional state that occurs when people are prevented from reaching desired goals External Frustration: Based on external conditions that impede progress toward a goal Can be social or non-social Personal Frustration: Caused by personal characteristics that impede progress toward a goal Reactions to Frustration Aggression: Any response made with the intention of harming a person, animal, or object Displaced Aggression: Redirecting aggression to a target other than the source of one?s frustration Scapegoating: Blaming a person or group for conditions they did not create; the scapegoat is a habitual target of displaced aggression Reactions to Frustration (Continued) Escape: May mean actually leaving a source of frustration (dropping out of school) or psychologically escaping (apathy) Coping with Frustration Try to identify the source of frustration Is it external or internal Is the source of frustration something that can be changed? How hard would it be to change it? Is it under your control at all? If the source can be changed or removed, is the effort worth it? Conflict Types of Conflicts Conflict: Stressful condition that occurs when a person must choose between contradictory needs, desires, motives, or demands Approach-Approach Conflicts: Having to choose between two desirable or positive alternatives (e.g., choosing between a new BMW or Mercedes) Types of Conflicts (Continued) Avoidance-Avoidance Conflicts: Being forced to choose between two negative or undesirable alternatives (e.g., choosing between going to the doctor or contracting cancer) NOT choosing may be impossible or undesirable Approach-Avoidance Conflicts: Being attracted (drawn to) and repelled by the same goal or activity Attraction keeps person in the situation, but negative aspects can cause distress Types of Conflicts (Continued) Double Approach-Avoidance Conflicts: Each alternative has both positive and negative qualities Example: You have to choose between one job with good pay and poor hours and another job with low pay and interesting work Multiple Approach-Avoidance Conflicts: Several alternatives have positive and negative features Managing Conflicts Don?t make hasty decisions Try out important decisions when possible Look for compromises Make a decision and live with it Defenses, Helplessness, and Depression Anxiety Feelings of tension, uneasiness, apprehension, worry, and vulnerability We are motivated to avoid experiencing anxiety Similar to fear but based on unclear threat Freudian Defense Mechanisms Habitual and unconscious (in most cases) mental processes designed to reduce anxiety Work by avoiding, denying, or distorting sources of threat or anxiety If used short term, can help us get through everyday situations If used long term, we may end up not living in reality Protect idealized self-image so we can live with ourselves Freudian Defense Mechanisms: Some Examples Denial: Most primitive Refusing to accept or believe reality Usually occurs with death and illness Repression: When painful memories, anxieties, and so on are held out of our awareness Reaction Formation: Impulses are repressed and the opposite behavior is exaggerated More Freudian Defense Mechanisms Regression: Any return to earlier, less demanding situations or habits Projection: When one?s own feelings, shortcomings, or unacceptable traits and impulses are seen in others Exaggerating negative traits in others lowers anxiety Rationalization: Justifying personal actions by giving ?rational? but false reasons for them Learned Helplessness (Seligman) Acquired (learned) inability to overcome obstacles and avoid aversive stimuli Learned passivity and inactivity to aversive stimuli Occurs when events appear to be uncontrollable May feel helpless if failure is attributed to lasting, general factors Depression State of feeling despondent defined by feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness One of the most common mental problems in the world Childhood depression is dramatically increasing Some symptoms: Loss of appetite or sex drive, decreased activity, sleeping too much There are similarities between depression and learned helplessness How to ?Unlearn? Helplessness Mastery Training: Responses are reinforced that lead to mastery of a threat or control over one?s environment One method to combat learned helplessness and depression Depression in Students May be due to: Stress from college work and pressure to choose a career Isolation and loneliness Problems with studying and grades Breakup of an intimate relationship Finding it hard to live up to idealized image of themselves Abuse of alcohol (depressant) How to Recognize Depression (Beck) You have a consistently negative opinion of yourself You engage in frequent self-criticism and self-blame You place negative interpretations on events that usually would not bother you The future looks grim You can?t handle your responsibilities and feel overwhelmed Stress and Health Stress and Health Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS): Rates the impact of various life events on the likelihood of contracting illness Not a foolproof method of rating stress Are positive life events (getting married, having a child) always stressful? People also differ in their reactions to stress Microstressors (Hassles): Minor but frequent stresses Psychosomatic Disorders Illness where psychological factors contribute to actual illnesses (bodily damage) or to damaging changes in bodily functioning Hypochondriacs: Complain about diseases that appear to be imaginary Certain kinds of ulcers are not psychosomatic Most common complaints: respiratory and gastrointestinal (e.g., stomach pain and asthma) Biofeedback Applying informational feedback to bodily control Aids voluntary regulation of bodily states such as blood pressure, heart rate, and so on Helpful but not an instant cure May help relieve muscle-tension headaches, migraine headaches, and chronic pain Benefits arise from general relaxation Cardiac Personalities Personalities also influence psychosomatic diseases Type A Personality: Personality type with elevated risk of heart disease Characterized by time urgency, chronic anger, or hostility Anger may be the key factor of this behavior Type B Personality: All types other than Type As Unlikely to have a heart attack Hardy Personality (Maddi, 2006) Personality type associated with superior stress resistance Sense of personal commitment to self and family Feel they have control over their lives and their work See life as a series of challenges, not threats Social Support Close, positive relationships with others People with social support tend to be happy, hardy, optimistic, and healthy Women usually make use of social support more than men Managing Stress Stress Management Use of behavioral strategies to reduce stress and improve coping skills Some Ways to Reduce Stress: Exercise: Choose rigorous but enjoyable activities Meditation Progressive Relaxation: Produces deep relaxation throughout the body by tightening all muscles in an area and then relaxing them Some More Ways to Reduce Stress Guided Imagery: Visualizing images that are calming, relaxing, or beneficial in other ways Modifying Ineffective Behavior: Slow down Organize Balance Recognize and accept limits Write about your feelings More on Stress Management Stress Inoculation: Using positive coping statements internally to control fear and anxiety; designed to combat: Negative Self-Statements: Self-critical thoughts that increase anxiety and lower performance Coping Statements: Reassuring, self-enhancing statements used to stop self-critical thinking
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