Health, Stress & Coping 

Primary appraisal

Three ways to appraise a stressful situation:

     1. Harm/loss appraisal - elicits negative emotions
        2. Threat appraisal - elicits negative emotions
            3. Challenge appraisal - elicits positive emotions

Physiological Responses

Fight-flight response - The best way to think of all of the systems of the fight-flight response (anxiety) 
is to remember that all are aimed at getting the organism prepared for immediate action & that their 
purpose is to protect the organism.

Sequence for activation of the fight-flight response:

    1. Appraisal
        2. Hypothalamus
            3. Sympathetic division
                4. Fight-flight response

Fight-flight: physiological responses:

    1. Stress appraisal activates the hypothalamus
     2. Respiration increases
      3. Heart rate increases
       4. Liver releases sugar
        5. Pupils dilate
         6. Hair stands
          7. Adrenal glands secretes hormones
           8. Muscle tension increases

     Note Males "fight or flight", females "tend & befriend" when stressed.

Fight-flight repeated over prolonged periods can produce psychosomatic symptoms.
     General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) (Hans Selye) refers to the body’s reaction to stressful situations 
during which it goes through a series of three stages:

     1. Alarm stage - initial reaction to stress and is marked by activation of the fight-flight response & 
causes physiological arousal.

     2. Resistance stage - the body’s reaction to continued stress during which most of the physiological 
responses return to normal levels but the body uses up great stores of energy.

     3. Exhaustion stage - the body’s reaction to long-term, continuous stress, marked by actual breakdown 
in internal organs or weakening of the infection-fighting immune system.

     Note The mind affects the body.

    Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how a person's psychological state affects his or her 
immune system.

Stressful Experiences

Kinds of stressors:

     Hassles - small, irritating, frustrating events that we face daily and that we usually appraise or interpret 
as stressful experiences. 

     Uplifts - small pleasurable, happy, and satisfying experiences that we have in our daily lives. 
    Major life events - potentially disturbing, troubling, or disruptive situations, both positive and negative, 
that we appraise as having a significant impact on our lives. 

Major life events (Social Readjustment Rating Scale) 

Simply add up the values for all of the listed life events that have occurred to you within the past year. 
If a particular event has happened to you more than once within the last 12 months, multiply the value 
by the number of occurrences. Calculate your total.

Life Event, Value

Death of Spouse, 100
Divorce, 73
Marital separation, 65
Jail term, 63
Death of close family membe, 63
Personal injury or illness, 53
Marriage,	50
Fired at work,	47
Marital reconciliation,	45
Retirement,	45
Change in health of family member,	44
Pregnancy,	40
Sex difficulties,	39
Gain of new family member,	39
Business readjustment,	39
Change in financial state,	38
Death of close friend,	37
Change to a different line of work,	36
Change in number of arguments with spouse,	35
Mortgage over $40,000,	31
Foreclosure or mortgage or loan,	30
Change in responsibilities at work,	29
Son or daughter leaving home,	29
Trouble with in-laws,	29
Outstanding personal achievement,	28
Spouse begins or stops work,	26
Begin or end school,	26
Change in living conditions,	25
Revision of personal habits,	24
Trouble with boss,	23
Change in work hours or conditions,	20
Change in residence,	20
Change in schools,	20
Change in recreation,	19
Change in church activities,	19
Change in social activities,	18
Mortgage or loan of less than $40,000,	17
Change in number of family get-togethers,	15
Change in sleeping habits,	15
Change in eating habits,	15
Single person living alone,	*
Other,	*

    For a value marked with an * give what you think would be appropriate points.

    If your score is 300 or more, statistically you stand an almost 80% chance of getting sick in the near 
future. If you score is 150 to 299, the chances are about 50%. At less than 150, about 30%. This scale 
seems to suggest that change in one's life requires an effort to adapt & then an effort to regain stability. 

Situational stressors: 

Frustration - the awful feeling that results when your attempts to reach some goal are blocked.

Burnout - refers to being physically overwhelmed and exhausted, finding the job unrewarding and becoming 
cynical or detached, and developing a strong sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment in this 
particular job

Violence - may result in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a disabling condition that results from 
personally experiencing an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or from witnessing 
such and event, or hearing of such an event happening to a family member or close friend.

Stressful Experiences: Conflict - the feeling you experience when you must choose between two or more 
incompatible possibilities or options.

     Approach-approach conflict - involves choosing between two situations that both have pleasurable 
     Avoidance-avoidance conflict - involves choosing between two situations that both have disagreeable 
     Approach-avoidance conflict - involves a single situation that has both pleasurable and disagreeable 

      Five styles of dealing with conflict:

     1. Avoidance - by avoiding or ignoring conflict, it will disappear or magically go away. 
     2. Accommodation - hate conflicts and tend to please people & worry about approval. 
     3. Domination - go to any lengths to win, even if it means being aggressive & manipulative 
     4. Compromise - recognize that others have different needs and try to solve conflicts through compromise. 
     5. Integration - try to resolve conflicts by finding solutions to please both partners.

      Three ways of developing anxiety ( an unpleasant state characterized by feelings of uneasiness & 
apprehension as well as increased physiological arousal, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure) :

     1. Classical conditioning: conditioned emotional response 
     2. Observational learning 
     3. Unconscious conflict (Freud) 

      Coping with anxiety can be done using extinction procedures (problem-focused, conscious coping techniques) 
& Freudian defense mechanisms (emotion focused, unconscious coping techniques).

Personality & Social Factors involved in Stress 

      A combination of three personality traits; control, commitment, & challenge protect or buffer us from stress, 
this combination of traits is referred to as hardiness.

      The belief that you are in control of your life is called an internal locus of control. 

      The belief that your life is controlled mostly by chance & luck is called an external locus of control. 

      Optimism is better for you than pessimism. 

      Type A behavior - hostile/angry - is bad for your heart.

      Social support in coping with stress refers to having a network of family or friends who provide strong social 
attachments, being able to exchange helpful resources within the network, & feeling that you have supportive 
relationships or behaviors. Loneliness is bad for you.

Kinds of Coping (Secondary Appraisal Level)

    Problem-focused coping - In problem-focused coping, people try to short-circuit negative emotions by taking 
some action to modify, avoid, or minimize the threatening situation. They change their behavior to deal with the 
stressful situation. Problem-focused coping is a long term coping strategy.

    Emotion-focused coping - In emotion-focused coping, people try to directly moderate or eliminate unpleasant 
emotions. Examples of emotion-focused coping include rethinking the situation in a positive way, relaxation, denial, 
& wishful thinking. May work in the short-run, but usually doesn't solve the basic stressful problem.

                 Topics in Psychology
                      Robert C. Gates