We all experience stress, but we don’t all find the same situations stressful. Some people find flying in planes highly stressful, while others take up skydiving as a hobby. Some people thrive in fast-paced, deadline-heavy careers, while others prefer less stimulating work. Stress means different things for different people, and everyone has their own way of coping with it. In some cases, people can worry themselves sick—literally—and some research links stress directly to illness.

Today, most researchers use a biopsychosocial model to explain disease. According to the biopsychosocial model, physical illness results from a complicated interaction among biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. In recent decades, the recognition that psychological factors can affect health has given rise to a new branch of psychology called health psychology. Health psychologists study ways of promoting and maintaining health. Their research focuses on the relationship between psychosocial factors and the emergence, progression, and treatment of illness.

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