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Pschosocial Context Of Health Essay

3517 words - 15 pages

The Psychosocial Context of Health 1 Discuss two concepts one Psychological and one sociological and their relevance to Osteopathic Practice Submission Date 4th February 2001 2885 words THE PSYCHOSOCIAL ASPECTS OF STRESS AND GENDER INTRODUCTION The word "˜stress' means many different things to many different people. A layperson may define stress in terms of pressure or tension. A physicist may regard it as a matter of forces and vectors acting around a body. Physiologists tend to define stress in terms of its effects on the neuroendocrine system, or something that provokes a change in the body's homeostatic balance. Psychologists have, over the years, defined stress in several ways. ...view middle of the document...

GENERAL ADAPTATION SYNDROME Two decades later Hans Selye developed his general adaptation syndrome (GAS). Selye (1956) suggested a three-part response to stress. Firstly came the Alarm stage; an increase in activity immediately following a stressful situation. This was followed by the Resistance stage in which an individual coped with and attempted to reverse the effects of the Alarm stage. Thirdly came the exhaustion stage, in which the individual, after being repeatedly exposed to stressful situations was unable to respond by initiating resistance.LIFE EVENTS The "˜Fight or flight' and GAS models were viewed by some as being too narrow; emphasising only the physiological aspects of a greater whole. In response Holmes and Rahe (1967) proposed the Schedule of Recent Events as a method of assessing stress levels. They produced a checklist that held a range of possible Life Events that an individual might experience. These life events ranged in severity from "˜death of spouse' and "˜jail term' through to the supposedly much less severe "˜vacation'. It was believed that totting up the number of Life events that in individual had experienced would give a relative indication of their level of stress.Amongst the biggest criticisms levelled against this model included the fact that no attempt was made at weighting the events. The death of a family member was just a stressful as a vacation. Also, no attempt was made to allow for individual perspective. Whilst one person might regard house-moving as a great struggle another might just as easily regard a it as a marvellous, much-longed for achievement.TRANSACTIONAL MODEL OF STRESS Lazarus and Cohen (1973, 1977) disagreed with what they saw as the automatic response at the base of the GAS. They produced a much more psychological point of view by introducing the concept of appraisal. Lazarus argued that a situation was only stressful if an individual had appraised it as being so. Taking this a step further Lazarus suggested two forms of appraisal. Firstly, an appraisal of the event itself and secondly an appraisal of the individuals' choices in coping. The automatic response is now removed and stress can be seen to be one result of a transaction between the individual and his environment.STRESS AND ILLNESS The physiological sequela of stress are well documented. The connection to certain types of ill-health are fairly clear-cut Stress causes an increase in catecholamines which results in increased levels of clot formation and may result in increased probability of heart attack and kidney disease Increased heart activity and Blood Pressure are both results of sympathetic arousal and will increase probability of athersclerosis, angina and myocardial infarction Stress causes an increase in acid secretion in the stomach. This results in an increased likelihood in ulceration Increased serum levels of corticosteroids and catecholamines have an immunosupressive effect, leaving the individual...

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