8th January, 2008
Dr. Farah Malik
Department of Psychology
Government College University Lahore
Stress is used as a general label for a vast complex, interdisciplinary area of interest and study, much of which is health related. Most often stress is related to personal discomfort associated with an over demanding or distressing lifestyle situation (Adams & Bromley, 1998) stress is a part of everyday life, we experience stress each day, although it is acknowledged that the degree of stress varies considerably depending on the complexity of the situation and availability of support. For some, the stress is manageable and work or home life is not affected. For others, however, the stress reaches a critical point where there may be a need for medical or psychiatric assistance (Weiten, 2001). The causes of stress can include any event or occurrence that a person considers a threat to his or her coping strategies or resources. Researchers generally agree that a certain degree of stress is a normal part of a living organism's response to the inevitable changes in its physical or social environment, and that positive, as well as negative, events can generate stress as well as negative occurrences (Frey, 2002). There can be innumerable stress factors since different individuals react differently to the same stress conditions. Extreme stress situations for an individual may prove to be mild for another, for yet another person the situations might not qualify as stressing at all. (http://www.lifepositive.com/stress.html).
The fact that women report and exhibit higher level of psychological distress than men has been explained in three major ways. The methodological artifact explanation suggests that women are socialized to be more expressive and therefore will admit more emotional symptoms than men in response to the standard psychological stress (Frey, 2002).
The stress exposure argument suggests that women face more stressor in general or more severe, persistent stressors than men. Whereas the vulnerability argument suggest that women lack coping resources such as high self esteem, a sense of mastery or appropriate coping strategies for handling the stressors to which they are exposed. Newman (1984 c.f. Eckenrode, 1991) suggested that women over report minor symptoms that inflate over all distress scores (Eller, 2000).
Stress in humans in general results from interactions between persons and their environment that are perceived as straining or exceeding their adaptive capacities and threatening their well-being. The element of perception indicates that human stress responses reflect differences in personality, as well as differences in physical strength or general health (Frey, 2002).
Stress is often termed as a twentieth century syndrome, born out of man's race towards modern progress and its ensuing complexities. For that matter, causes such as a simple flight delay to managing a teenage child at home can put you under stress. Listing the causes of stress is tricky yet replete with practical diversity (http://www.lifepositive.com/stress.html).
General cause of stress include primarily, Threat; a perceived threat will lead a person to feel stressed. This can include physical threats, social threats, financial threat, and so on. Fear; Fear leads to imagined outcomes, which are the real source of stress. Uncertainty; When people are not certain, they are unable to predict, and hence feel they are not in control, and hence may feel fear or feel threatened by that which is causing the uncertainty (http://www.workstress.net/causes.htm).
Apart from certain general causes another reason is cognitive dissonance; it is when there is a gap between what people do and what they think, then the outcome...