Psychology -> The relationship between stress and disease
The relationship between stress and disease
the relationship between stress and disease
Prolonged, intense stress has also been related to illnesses such as psychosomatic disorders. These are illnesses in which psychological factors play a part in producing actual damage to the body or changes in how the body functions. There are a number of illnesses thought to be psychosomatic such as bronchial asthma, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, stomach ulcers, arthritis, heart disease, hives and other disorders associated with over arousal of the autonomic nervous system.
• the general adaptation syndrome
One of the major contributors to stress research was Hans Selye (1956) who identified and described the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). After he exposed rats to a large number of physical and psychological stressors, he concluded that all stressors produced essentially the same pattern of results. He believes the reactions to prolonged stress consists of three stages:
• alarm: where the individual is mobilised for action
• resistance: the individual attempts to cope with the threat through fight or flight
• exhaustion: the individual is unable to overcome the threat and the energy resources have been depleted through attempts to reduce the threat. This stage is associated with signs of physical wear and tear, especially in organ systems that were weak in the first place or heavily involved in the resistance process
Seyle's model of stress has been very influential but it underestimated the role of psychological factors, such as emotional factors or the way a person thinks about stressors. Psychobiological models of stress emphasise the importance of psychological as well as biological variables in regulating and producing stress responses.
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