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Stress Term Paper

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The Effects of Stress

Stress is an ongoing dilemma which occurs in everyone's life. It is a factor that is without a question apart of daily living. Due to the minor problems that occur in people's daily lives, massive amounts of stress can arise. Stress means different things to people and effects people in different ways. Some people think stress is something that happens to them such as an injury or a birthday. And others think that stress is what happens to our mind, body, and behaviors in a response to an event. While stress does involve events and how one responds to them, these are not the critical factors, but our thoughts about the situation in which we are involved are the critical factors. Essentially, stress exists whenever homeostasis is disturbed or cannot be maintained (Stress and the Social System Course Guide, 1993). Homeostasis refers to the body's ability to keep the internal chemical and physical environments constant.(Saladin, 2004) One will learn from this paper, that stress can sometimes cause our body's to react with serious consequences. One will also learn some tips to manage stress efficiently, so that stress doesn't overwhelm them and cause serious problems.

There are different ways in which one can experience stress and it is important to remember that stress is an essential part of life. Not all stressful situations are negative. Receiving a promotion at work, the birth of a child or taking a trip can all be stressful, but are not always threatening. The reason why one may see these situations as stressful is because they may feel unprepared to deal with them. To eliminate confusion and misuse of words, Hans describes stress as being damaging or unpleasant experiences as distress, unpleasurable, or unsatisfying experiences which are called eustress (Rice, 1999).

There are many chronic illnesses that are associated with stress. As your body begins to react to stress, several changes occur. These changes include increased heart rate, blood pressure, and secretion of stimulatory hormones. One's body prepares itself in stressful situations to either stand ground and fight or to flee from the situation. Walter Cannon called this stressful reaction the fight-or-flight response (Greenberg, 1999).

The first physiological response due to stress is known as the general adaptation syndrome. The GAS has three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The first stage is called alarm. It is basically known as the fight-or-flight response, this process is the various physiological changes that prepare the body to attack or to flee a threatening situation. The sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is activated and then the releases of two catecholamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, from the adrenal medulla. Additionally, glucocorticoids like cortisol are then released from the adrenal cortex.(Saladin, 2005) Some examples of physiological changes that trigger the alarm stage are increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, rapid or irregular breathing , muscle tension, dilated pupils, sweating, dry mouth, and increased blood sugar levels. The second stage is called resistance. This is when the body tries to calm itself and restrain the fight-or-flight response from the alarm stage. The third stage is called the exhaustion stage. These changes allow people to deal with stress more effectively over a longer period of time. When the body eventually runs out of energy from trying to resist the stress, the exhaustion stage takes over. In this stage, the body admits defeat and suffers the negative consequences of the event, such as not being able to function correctly, less sleep, or even death. This phase can cause some major physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms. Some physical symptoms are fatigue, back pain, headache, and ulcer. Some psychological symptoms are memory loss, poor concentration, and decreased, self esteem. And some behavioral symptoms are verbal outburst, increased smoking, increased alcohol use, and eating disorders.

One of the many effects due to stress is called a burnout. A burnout is an increasingly intense pattern of psychological, physiological, and behavioral responses to a continuous flow of stress or chronic stress. It is commonly found among employees and professionals who have a high degree of personal investment in their work and have high performance expectations. In the initial stages, people often have a variety of physiological and behavioral symptoms and lose interest and confidence in their work. The following physiological symptoms may occur: shortness of breath, loss of appetite, weight, headache, fatigue, and exhaustion. People who experience a burnout may have some of the behavioral symptoms like: lack of interest in fellow employees, risky behavior, and mood swings. In the later stages, people often engage in the following problems such as, abuse of alcohol and other drugs, smoke excessively, drink more caffeinated beverages, and become more rigid in their thinking. They often lose faith in the abilities of co-workers, management, the organization, and themselves. As a result they then become less productive. In fact, many people don't associate these symptoms to stress and this burnout stage. This burnout stage goes behind the subject ego depletion. Ego depletion is when an indivual acts of volition-making choices and decisions, taking responsibility, initiating, or inhibiting behavior, and making plans of action to carrying them out. (Wall,2001 ) This stage draws out on a limited supply of volitional energy that is available inside people. Consequently, if people deplete their resource too much, it is no longer very easy to do what they need to do to handle stress, such as trying to use coping strategies in response to stress.

Another way that stress can affect us is by affecting the way we think. Stress can affect our minds and possibly create mental disorders. Mental disorders are the result of a varying combination of sources, one of which is stress. (Thomas,2000) Some examples of other sources are chemical imbalances, inherited characteristics, early learning experiences, brain damage, and psychological traits. People sometimes have symptoms of mental disorders, but they usually do not meet the criteria or are not clinically severe enough to receive treatment. Before a person can be diagnosed with a mental disorder, his or her thoughts, feelings, and actions must meet the criteria for the mental disorder and must prevent enough social, occupation, or other forms of functioning. Stress may play a causal role in a wide variety of mental disorders. Some of the mental disorders in which stress appears to have a causal role are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and substance-related disorders.

Stress is also linked to many



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