With as eustress. Many psychologists have developed different hypothesis’

With the added pressures in society and the work place,
stress has become an increasing common denominator to many. Empirical findings
have established a less consistent relationship between stress, disease and
illness than society would like us to believe. However, with an increasing
number of studies being created in the last 20 years, a greater understanding
has developed highlighting the possible destructive effect it can create
without a resolution to the situation. The term stress describes any demand to our bodies, whether it is physical
or mental. Most commonly we associate stress with negativity, however, studies
have shown that enjoyment and motivation can also be an outcome achieved
through stress’ this is known as eustress. Many psychologists have developed
different hypothesis’ understanding the link between stress and illness, from depression,
cardiovascular complications and common colds. However research is consistently
progressing in this field taking steps towards a greater understanding and
ability to then achieve the correct guidance and help for stress sufferers
consequently suppressing the high volume of people affected.

 

Stress, whether it be good (eustress) or bad (distress) is
one of the most apparent ways to see the connection between your mind and body.
Stressors can come in a variety of forms. Some may require an immediate
response for example, seeing a car driving towards an elderly person at high speed to a slower more ongoing challenge such as
writing an essay which would call for a more prolonged response. When it comes
to dealing with different stressors that may arise in our lives our bodies have
developed two different systems- one is described as ‘fast’ and the other a
‘slow’. Together these systems give us the flexibilities to handle the variety
of stressors thrown at our everyday lives. Most commonly our ‘fast’ pathway is
known as the fight-or-flight response, formally known as the Sympathetic
Adrenomedullary system (SAM). When our brains recognize that an urgent response
is needed a signal is passed to the hypothalamus, a small section in the middle
of the brain that is in control of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). Nerve
impulses are then sent from the sympathetic branch of the ANS down to the
adrenal glands, which as a consequence release adrenaline. Once the adrenaline
is in the blood stream immediate responses are send to different parts of the
body speeding up our heart and respiration rate providing us with more oxygen.
The increase in heart rate and blood pressure heightens the risk of then
developing physical damage to the cardiovascular system for example; heart
attacks, atherosclerosis and strokes. When under extreme or sudden stress you
may lose your appetite or obtain a dry mouth this is caused by our digestive system
shutting down. The sudden increase of adrenaline created by the SAM system
works efficiently to aid us out of sudden stressful situations and then the
levels will fall again once our bodies believe we are out of danger to a more
relaxed state. However if the stressor continues for more than a couple of
minutes the ‘slow’, longer lasting system kicks in formally known as
Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA). As above the stressor in question is
processed by the hypothalamus in the brain but this time releases the hormone
directly into the bloodstream via the pituitary gland. This then sets off
multiple chemical events through the body resulting in the release of the
hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps to regulate blood pressure, glucose levels and
the immune response, just to name a few. The cortisol
circulating the body then helps us deal with the stress. Green (1994)

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With a growing number of studies demonstrating that
psychological factors may be increasing our risk of developing coronary
complications and subsequently cardiac death Chandola
et al, (2008) conducted a study adding the past
research that ‘work stress’ has an impact on the likelihood we could develop
coronary heart disease (CHD). They concluded that although ‘This
study demonstrates that stress at work can lead to CHD through direct
activation of neuroendocrine stress pathways and indirectly through health
behaviours.’ Chandola et al. (2008) there is most likely
other cofounders that contribute towards the link between work stress and CHD
such as other sources of stress, individual differences (for example smoking
and higher alcohol intake), and different personality types.

Through
previous research peoples differentiating personalities have concluded in
‘groups’ being formed dependant on individual traits. Studies have been created
to measure the correlation between their lifestyle and the risk of CHD. There
have been adverse results published resulting in mixed reactions and
trustworthiness in this area. Denollet and Van Heck (2001) created an article
highlighting the relationship (or lack of) between Type D individuals and heart
disease using a previous study by Pedersen and Middel (2001). Type D represents
an individual who will often focus on negative
emotions. In the past they have been connected with a higher risk of fatal and
non-fatal cardiac complications from previous patients suffering with coronary
heart disease. Although previous studies have shown minimal results, more
research needs to be completed in this field to gain a greater understanding. Taking into consideration
other factors which could affect the results, for example environmental
influences. Denollet and Van Heck (2001) believe that ‘in addition to measuring
specific psychological factors in coronary patients such as depression or
social support, it is also important to assess constructs that are based on
broad, stable dimensions of normal personality’. At the same time, new evidence
supports using the personality approach when identifying if the patient could
be at a higher risk of developing cardiac (heart) complications.

Depression
has become the most common psychiatric illness among the western population. Whether
depressive symptoms are slight or major Kiecolt-Glaser and Glaser (2002) believe
they carry considerable health risks. Their paper concentrates on how
depression may add to morbidity and mortality through the immune system caused
by an abnormality in the psychological process. They argue that the changes in
the immune and endocrine systems could be directly prompted by depression. In
addition to this they believe stress and depression could prolong infections
from getting better and prevent wounds healing as quickly. With further
research addressing the dysregulation of the immune system correlating with
depression a higher understanding could be achieved for psychological
influences and our health. Loveday (2016) focuses on a “stress hormone”
released into our bodies otherwise known as cortisol. Blood pressure, wound
healing, liver and kidneys are just a few daily functions that the hormone
regulates throughout your day. Consequently this enables our bodies to adapt
easily to change when we need it. If you live a healthy lifestyle it is likely
cortisol follows a regular routine in your everyday life. Levels of cortisol
peak when we wake up in the morning helping our brain get ready for the
upcoming events. The levels gradually decrease throughout the day. However, the
Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) can also be an indicator of poor health and
wellbeing. Often levels of the stress hormone are irregular in individuals
suffering from depression and other illnesses.