A Relationship Between Stress and Physical Illness Essay

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A Relationship Between Stress and Physical Illness

Stress is an example of a behaviour and experience explained in physiological and psychological terms.

Recently awareness has been heightened concerning the harmful effects of stress and how it can be successfully managed and prevented. Lay definitions of stress seem to focus on a 'force' or some kind of mental pressure which is exerted upon an individual which is aversive.

Stress is often associated with anxiety, strain, tension, distress and fatigue. The effects of stress include biochemical physiological and psychological changes, many of which are associated with ill health effects (Gatchel 1989). Thus medical and psychological research
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The pituitary gland is the main endocrine gland; it controls the release of many hormones. In the brain stem we find the autonomic nervous system, which runs to different organs in the body e.g. heart and lungs.

The ANS has two divisions; the sympathetic (prepares to cope with a dangerous or stressful situation) and the parasympathetic division (calms us down).

During a state of arousal/stress, the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system stimulates the adrenal medulla to release the hormones adrenaline and non-adrenaline into the bloodstream. These hormones, in conjunction with corticosteroids, reinforce sympathetic arousal by stimulating heart rate and mobilizing further energy resources in the body. This enables the body to deal with the stressor by activating a 'flight or fight' response.

Seyle produced a model known as the General Adaptation Syndrome to explain the short term effects of stress, it also helps us understand the development of stress related illnesses e.g. ulcers. He identified the following three stages of a physiological response to stress:

Stage 1 - Alarm - stress response systems are activated e.g. internal - injury, external - nasty dog;

Stage 2 - Resistance - stress response is fully activated and body is coping;

Stage 3 - Exhaustion - as a result of this chronic long
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