The Bio-psychosocial Effects of Stress

Topics: Stress, Occupational health psychology, Repetitive strain injury Pages: 6 (2054 words) Published: April 28, 2014
Using an integrated bio-psychosocial approach discuss how stress can affect health, well-being and the maintenance of homeostasis.

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This essay will discuss the effects and implications of stress on health, wellbeing and the maintenance of homeostasis using a bio-psychosocial approach. To do this, it will focus on the biological, psychological and sociological aspects separately with health, wellbeing and homeostasis effects running all the way through and attempt to link them all together at the end. The causes of stress and the positive and negative ramifications will be analysed with a view to examine ways to reduce stress. Homeostasis as described in the Hutchinson dictionary (2004) is the maintenance of environment around a living cell within set parameters with specific regard to pH, salt concentration, temperature and blood sugar levels. This is done via a series of processes such as blood pressure, blood pH body temperature, gastric function, calcium levels, urinary, endocrine, testosterone, labour, blood clotting and ovulation; these are controlled by feedback systems, negative or positive. Change is perceived by sensory neurons that monitor base line conditions, information of changes are sent to the hypothalamus in the medulla and Pons region of the brain. The hypothalamus then secretes hormones via the blood which then attach themselves to cell membrane receptor cells to invoke the effectors to bring the body back into homeostasis (Sarafino, 2006a.). Homeostasis, literally meaning steady state, can be likened to a central heating system in a house; the sensory neurons would be the thermostat reading temperature, when the temperature goes below a set limit it communicates with the control centre in the boiler which starts the effectors being the radiators and their heating device. In the home measures can be taken to increase efficiency of the heating system as can a nurse become an external homeostatic mechanism. When the patient “norm” is altered the nurse will assess the situation and decide if the needs are met or not met, for instance fluid intake for a dehydrated patient, the nurse will implement care plans, restore the “norm” and monitor (McVicar & Clancy, 1998). Eysenck and Flanagan (2000, p. 118) define stress as “a generalised reaction to a demand on the body.” They then go on to elaborate that “demands” are known as stressors. These are events that can affect the body causing it to react to things like temperature increase or decrease, disease or pain. These stressors cause the body to react in a way that promotes survival in a defensive, adaptive and rapid way. This can be compared to a mechanical structure like a suspension bridge, if stress is applied incorrectly cracks can show, if corrective measures aren’t taken the bridge could be in jeopardy. Stress brings out our fight or flight instinct. The body reacts to a perceived threat and decides whether to attack the threat or escape. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, increases blood pressure, raises heart rate, decreases digestion and increases glucose production, this has positive and negative effects, the positive is mobilization from threat, the negative is prolonged arousal is damaging to health (Sarafino, 2006b). Selye (1955) says there are three stages to stress; they are called the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). The first stage is ‘alarm/reaction’, second is ‘resistance’ and last is ‘exhaustion.’ This graph is taken from the stress management website (2010) The straight line represents normal state of arousal. It is worth pointing out that Selye (1956), as cited by Sarafino (2006b), argued that GAS is ‘nonspecific’ with regards to the type of stressor. The reaction of the body is the same whether the stressor is desired or undesired, illness or physical threat. However Sarafino (2006b) goes on to argue that as there are different kinds of stress with varying degrees coupled with...
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