Stress and Coping

Topics: Fight-or-flight response, Norepinephrine, Sympathetic nervous system Pages: 1 (342 words) Published: October 3, 2012
pingDiscuss physiological, psychological and social aspects of stress

Stress and coping are two terms often used together. Coping is defined as efforts to deal with a threat in order to remove it or diminish its impact on the person. According to Sarafino (1994), stress arises when people perceive a discrepancy between the demands of a situation and their perception of their own resources. This perception may be realistic but it may also be unrealistic. What matters is the individuals’ own evaluation of the situation, and this has an impact on the way that person confronts the stressful situation. The physiological changes of the sympathetic nervous system prepare the individual to either confront or escape from the source of stress “fight or flight” (Cannon 1914). The body’s stress response is arousal for example, increased blood pressure and providing glucose to the muscles. The adrenal glands release stress hormones (e.g. adrenalin) to energize the body, so that the person can confront or avoid the threat. Hans Selye (1956) suggested the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). The model describes three stages in the stress process. The initial stage is called “the alarm stage”, which is the equivalent of the fight or flight response. The second stage is called “the resistance stage”, and involves coping, along with attempts to reverse the effects of the alarm stage. The third stage is called “exhaustion”; this is reached after the individual has been repeatedly exposed to stressors and is incapable of further coping. Selye based his theory on research with rats, which all showed the same general symptoms when they were exposed to different stressors. Early stress models emphasized physiological changes and described the individual as automatically responding to external stressors. The strength of GAS is that it can explain the extreme fatigue that people experience after long-term stress. One weakness is that psychological factors only play a minor role in...
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