Stress Is an Epidemic in the 21st Century

Topics: Personality psychology, Personality type, Anxiety Pages: 7 (2095 words) Published: November 8, 2008
In today’s fast paced world almost everyone deals with stress. The media presents us with tragedies and disasters from around the world. The world of terrorism is brought to our lounge rooms. Financial pressures brought about through rising interest rates and drought, climate change and the competitiveness of careers and employment all add to the pressures of living in today’s world and stress levels. Beth McHugh in her article Anxiety: The New Plague of the Millennium states: “Stress and anxiety have overtaken the contagious disease that once plagued our grandparents and are regarded as the new epidemics of the 21st century. Having developed vaccines for any number of communicable and deadly diseases we are now left with the unease of the mind.” (Beth McHugh Anxiety: The new plague of the millennium 2007 http;//mental health.families.com/blg/trackback/11412).

Dr Hans Selye who in the stress myth (Serge Doublet) is described as the father of stress theory defines stress as “the non specific response of the body to any demand made upon it”. (Serge Doublet PhD. The Stress Myth 1999-2000 pg 79)

Another definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S Lazarus) is that “stress is a condition or a feeling that is experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise (Beth McHugh Anxiety: The new plague of the millennium 2007 http;//mental health.families.com/blg/trackback/11412).

The “demand” can be a threat, a challenge or any kind of change which causes the body to adapt. The response is automatic and immediate. Stress can be good or bad Eustress or good stress is when it helps us perform better and Distress or bad stress is when it causes upset or distress. According to Robert Osterman a professor of psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University “No one reaches peak performance without an athlete, an office worker or manager”. He goes on to say that in normal events the pattern of human behavior to stress when experiencing a stressful event is to react to it with increased tension and then return to normal relaxed state. The problem occurs when the stress is constant or overwhelming and this pattern is broken. (Rebecca Maxon: Stress in the workplace: A costly Epidemic.)

Stress is common to everyone. Our bodies are designed to feel stress and react to it. It keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger. It is not always possible to avoid of change events that cause us stress. When a person feels trapped or unable occur and stress takes over then this can affect behaviour. Changes in behaviour can include inability to sleep, aggressiveness withdrawal a dependence on drugs or alcohol.

Literature suggests that personality may influence how people react to stress and determine their behaviour. The theory of Type A and Type B Personality divides people into 2 personality types which determines behaviours.

Type A personalities are highly driven, competitive, impatient and aggressive. (Thoresen and Powell 1992). These personalities are driven by ambition, curiosity; creativity and adventure find themselves in countless situations of stress resulting from over commitment, excitement, frustration and fatigue. These personality types eat walk and talk rapidly, are devoted to work, are highly competitive, struggle to perform several tasks at once, have a strong sense of urgency interrupts others and loses their temper easily. Type A personality’s find it difficult to delegate authority and often because of this increase their own workloads. And may in fact create stress for themselves through their behaviour. In the late 1950s Friedman and Rosenman (1959) identified a major link between Type A personality through their research into Type A personality Friedman and Rosenman (1959) identified a link between stress and health. This personality was found to be a more likely to suffer heart disease. They determined that the factors that...

References: Beth McHugh Anxiety: The new plague of the millennium 2007 http;//mental health.families.com/blg/trackback/11412). 12/04/08
Doublet S: (1999) The Stress Myth Ipsilon Publishing Sydney.
Dunn D, Hammer E, Lloyd M Weiten W: (2006) Psychology Applied to Modern life Belmont CA Cengage Learning
Stress Anxiety and Depression Resources Centre: Stress and Substance Abuse: (2006) www.stress-anxiety.org/stress/substance-abuse 14/04/08
Maxon Rebecca (1999) Stress in the Workplace: A Costly Epidemic. www.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/99su/stress.html
Depression Perception fact Sheet (2007) www.depressionperception.com/anxiety_facts_and_statistics.asp 10/04/08
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