Chapter summary imageCan our thoughts actually improve our health?

HOW ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL STATES CONNECTED TO PHYSICAL REACTIONS?

  • The field of health psychology places emphasis on the idea that physical health and mental health are closely related.
  • Stress significantly increases a person’s risk factor for the four leading causes of illness and death: cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular/stroke, respiratory disease.
  • When the body is emotionally aroused, it produces a fight-or-flight response by releasing stress hormones from the adrenal glands.

HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT OUR IMMUNE SYSTEMS AND OUR OVERALL HEALTH?

  • Common stressors—events that we see as challenging or threatening—include catastrophes, significant life changes, and daily hassles.
  • Stress is related to heart disease. Type A people are more likely than Type B people to suffer from heart attacks because of their different physiological reactions to stress.
  • Stress causes the brain to secrete stress hormones that suppress the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to illnesses, including the progression of cancer. Stress also correlates with the progression of HIV to AIDS.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DIFFERENT WAYS THAT PEOPLE COPE WITH STRESS?

  • Coping strategies, including rational coping, repressive coping, and reframing, help to minimize the effects of stressors.
  • Foreseeing a source of stress and considering how to deal with it in advance is known as anticipatory coping.
  • Attempts to alleviate stress may be problem-focused (dealing directly with the source of the stress) or emotion-focused (avoiding the stressor).

WHAT TECHNIQUES CAN WE USE TO ALLEVIATE OR MANAGE STRESS?

  • People who perceive that they have control over a stressor, who have a positive outlook, and who have social support are better able to deal with stress.
  • Aerobic exercise, biofeedback, and relaxation and meditation techniques can help to relieve stress.