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What Is Stress?

Your definition…
Stimulus or Response? Or interaction?
  Stressor — (stimulus) event or situation that triggers
   coping adjustments
  Stress reaction – How do you respond to stress?
   What are your ―symptoms?‖
     physiological, cognitive, emotional, behavioral
  Stress as process – interaction between event,
   perception, and reaction
The Physiology of Stress

Walter Cannon   (1932)

   Fight-or-flight reaction
   Outpouring of substances that prepare an
   organism to defend against a threat
   Adaptive for our ancestors (but contributes to
   stress-related illnesses in modern times)
      Brain and Endocrine
       System in Stress

Sympathoadreno-Medullary (SAM) System
  The body’s initial, rapid-acting response to
   stress -- epinephrine and norepinephrine from
   the adrenal medulla
 (HPAC) System
  The body’s second response to stress --
   secretion of corticosteroid hormones from the
   adrenal cortex
Stress Pathways
Measuring Stress
Physiological Measures
  Polygraph or Biofeedback machine—records
   several arousal responses, including heart rate, blood
   pressure, respiration rate, and GSR (measure of the
   skin’s resistance to electricity)
   Fluid samples – (e.g., saliva) to test for
   catecholamine and cortisol production
Subjective Measures
   Stress questionnaires
           Variability in
         stress response

Stress reactivity: people vary in their
 sweating, pupil dilation and changes in heart
 rate when stressed.
Stress recovery: People vary in the speed
 with which they return to normal after being
Stress resistance: People vary in their
 stress responses due to coping, social support
  Sources of Stress

List your top five stressors
   Common hassles
      School demands
      Noise – residents near airports have higher BP
           & stress
      Crowding
      Relationship issues
      Sleep deprivation
      Job stress (next slides)
  Job-Related Stress
Job-related stress costs:
  reduced productivity
  worker compensation benefits
Research study: “Overload
in Working Mothers”
BCBS workers
  Urine samples (to look for metabolites of
   stress hormones)
  Daily mood scale
Results: feel stressed (esp w/ children at home)
   High stress (low perceived control + high demand)
   increased urinary neurohormones
Sources of Stress

 Stressors (continued)
    Major life events (e.g., divorce, moves)
    Catastrophic stressors (next slide)
Sources of Stress:

Oklahoma City, 9/11, Katrina, etc.
  Increased incidence of hypertension, heart disease,
   and other stress-related ailments
  Rates of depression, anxiety, and other
   psychological disorders increase

  New Orleans Suicide Rate May Be Up
  Associated Press - September 14, 2006 –
  New Orleans' suicide rate appears to have gone up in
    the first six months after Hurricane Katrina
    evacuees were allowed back home
How does a potential stressor
      lead to stress?
Perception and stress

 “I have had a great many
 troubles in my life…
 And most never happened…”
        Mark Twain
Perceiving Stress

Many situations are not inherently stressful… depends
 on appraisal:
      • Primary appraisal — determination of an event’s
      • Secondary appraisal — evaluation of one’s ability to
        meet the demands of a challenging event

Cognitive appraisals are extremely susceptible to one’s
 current state of mood, health, motivation
Stress and Illness   (next powerpoint)

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