Stress and Stressors

  • Stress is defined differently by different researchers.
  • One definition of stress is the experience of being threatened by taxing circumstances.
  • Stress depends on how environmental events are appraised.
  • Stressors can be associated with poor health if they are chronic, highly disruptive, or perceived as uncontrollable.
  • Three types of stressors are catastrophic events, major life changes, and minor hassles.
  • Stress is produced when people experience frustration, conflict, or pressure.
  • Hans Selye proposed that the stress response consists of a general adaptation syndrome, which has three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion.
  • In stressful situations, the brain sends signals to the rest of the body along two pathways.


  • Coping refers to efforts to manage stress.
  • Coping can be adaptive or maladaptive.
  • Adaptive coping involves direct confrontation of problems, realistic appraisals, recognizing and modifying unhealthy emotional reactions, and protecting bodily health.
  • Maladaptive coping includes behaviors such as using alcohol and drugs to escape problems.
  • There are many different coping strategies.
  • Factors that improve coping include social support, optimism, and perceived control.

Stress and Disease

  • Chronic stress is linked to the development of many psychological and physical problems.
  • Stress can affect the immune system.
  • Depression, type A behavior and hostility, and emotional inhibition are associated with health problems.
  • Lifestyle features that endanger health include smoking, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise.
  • After developing illness symptoms, people’s behavior influences the likelihood that they will get better.
  • People often delay seeking medical treatment for a variety of reasons.
  • Health care providers and patients often have communication problems.
  • People sometimes don’t adhere to treatment regimens.

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