Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Chapter 5 Stress and Physical and Mental Health...

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Chapter 5 Stress and Physical and Mental Health Abnormal Psychology Spring 2011 Erika Coles, Ph.D.
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2 What Is Stress? Stress refers to both The external demands placed on an organism (a.k.a. stressors ) The organism’s internal biological and psychological responses to such demands Stress is a by-product of poor or inadequate coping Both positive stress and negative stress ( distress ) tax a person’s coping skills
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Stress and the DSM Stress is a significant component of multiple DSM diagnostic categories PTSD Adjustment disorder Acute stress disorder Stress is also emphasized in Axis IV of DSM, which is used to report psychosocial stressors 3
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Factors Predisposing a Person to Stress The nature of the stressor The experience of crisis Life changes A person’s perception of the stressor The individual’s stress tolerance A lack of external resources and social supports 4
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5 Characteristics of Stressors Key characteristics of stress involve: Severity Chronicity Timing How closely it affects our own lives How expected it is How controllable it is
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Characteristics of Stressors Crises are especially stressful because the stressors are so potent that typical coping techniques are overwhelmed Life changes, positive or negative, can increase stress Perceiving benefit from a disaster, such as personal growth, can lessen the experience of stress 6
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7 Stress and the Stress Response Two of the body’s systems respond when a stressor is perceived: Sympathetic-adrenomedullary (SAM) system prepares fight-or-flight response Hypothalamic-pituitary adrenocortical (HPA) produces cortisol, which is helpful in emergencies
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Biological Costs of Stress Allostasis The process of adaptation or achieving stability through change Allostatic load results in wear and tear on the body 8
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The Mind-Body Connection Stress may cause an overall vulnerability to disease Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the interaction between the nervous system and the immune system 9
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Understanding the Immune System The immune system is like the body’s
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Chapter 5 - Chapter 5 Stress and Physical and Mental Health...

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