Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Psychology G543 - Stress Overview

The Health and Clinical Psychology section of the G544 paper covers 4 topic areas
- Heathy Living 
- Stress
- Dysfunctional Behaviour 
- Disorders 

My school do not look at Healthy Living, focusing only on the latter 3 which will be covered in detail in further blog posts.

First, let's have a look at the topic of STRESS.


What is stress?
Stress is defined as a psychological and physiological response to stressors. 

What are some physiological symptoms of stress?
We respond physically to stress by producing adrenaline which prepares our bodies for fight or flight. This includes: 
- Increased heart rate and respiration - This is so that more blood can be carried to the brain, helping us to think more clearly and react more quickly. 
- Perspiration (sweating)
- Closing down non-essential bodily functions
- Dialating pupils - In order to make vision clearer

At a time like this, I've not doubt that you've been feeling the stress, however one of the most important psychological questions (and the first part of the stress topic) is what causes stress? 

The three studies OCR has cited for causes of stress are: 
Johansson - This study looks at the repetition and responsibility of work as a cause stress. 
- Kanner - Kanner compares two methods of stress scale, Hassles & Uplifts and Life Events, to see which causes more stress. 
- Geer and Maisel - This study looks at lack of control as a cause of stress. 

Another question asked by psychologists is what is the best way of measuring stress? As stress is a feeling and so it is subjective, it is sometimes difficult to accurately measure how stressed a person is feeling. 

The three studies OCR has cited for measuring stress are: 
- Physiological Measure - Geer and Maisel - The use of Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) to measure conductivity of sweat caused by stress.
- Self Report Measures - Holmes and Rahe - The use of rating scales such as the Social Readjustment Rating Scale to measure how life events cause stress. 
- Combined Measures - Johansson - The use of both urine samples to test for adrenaline levels, and self-report measures such as caffeine and nicotine consumption and emotional wellbeing. 

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, psychologists want to know how people can reduce the stress they feel. This not only enhances wellbeing but also saves society the cost of health care and lost productivity! 

The three studies OCR has cited for managing stress are: 
- Cognitive - Meichenbaum - This approach seeks to correct faulty thinking patterns through the use of Stress Innoculation Therapy. 
- Behavioural - Budzynski - This approach uses biofeedback, a system which gives visible or audible feedback on the state of our body, in order to try and cure tension headaches. 
- Social - Waxler Morrison - This study investigates whether social networks, which reduce stress, improve the survival rate of breast-cancer sufferers. 

Good Luck!

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