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Discuss How Stress Affects Health.

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Introduction

DISCUSS HOW STRESS AFFECTS HEALTH The relationship between 'stress' and the consequences it has on health, as encouraged much research and debate. Of course, perhaps before we can provide a considered assessment, it is initially important that one would need a definition as a basic premise for discussion. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) describes stress as 'the negative emotional and physiological process that occurs as individuals try to deal with emotional and physiological process that occurs as individuals try to deal with emotional circumstances that disrupt or threaten to disrupt their daily functioning. There are several prevalent examples of the possibility that stress can influence an individuals' health status- however, it is essential that evidence is critically assessed in order to formulate a worthwhile debate on whether stress, and to what degree, can affect health and wellbeing. Early research into stress, researchers often used animals such as monkeys and rats. For instance, Brady etal. (1958) in their famous 'executive monkey' provides a competent example of this. Monkeys received electric footshocks for 20-second intervals every six hours at a time, with six hours rest in-between. ...read more.

Middle

They noticed that significant life events often seemed to cluster in the months preceding the illness or injury. A panel of judges were used to produce ratings of how much change would lead to, and a rank order emerged with 'death of spouse' at the top ( value 100 points) and ' Christmas' and 'minor violations of the law' at the bottom. Holmes and rache equated life change with stress, and predicted that high levels of life change (calculated by adding by simply adding up the values) over a 12 month period would lead to an increased chance of health breakdown over the following two years; a score of over 300 was seen as critical. Studies shown some small but significant correlation's between high scores and ill health, although some results were negative There are several problems that are obvious in the study. For instance, the categorisation/ severity of life events are subjective and arbitrary. A universal scale is perhaps impossible. An illustration of this would be that an individual may find Christmas a big emotional strain, or, marital separation a relief rather than a 'life changing' stressor. ...read more.

Conclusion

What Selye has managed to identify in his research was a medically based assessment of the relationship between stress and how it can trigger ill health. His research is reliable and is universal to human beings. This is what is fundamentally is problematic with the psychological theories they could be accused of being un-reliable, and at times, subjective. The medical approach to stress identifies the affect that stress has on the immune system. In somewhat simplistic terms, the components of the immune system kill or inactivate foreign or harmful substances in the body such as viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells. If the immune system is impaired- by stressors- individuals are left vulnerable to colds, mononucleosis, and many more infectious diseases.(Cohen and herbert,1996). An interpretation of stress and ill health has been applied by both psychology and physiology. What is generally accepted is that stress can be a catalyst in facilitating ill health. However, it appears the physiology provides medically sound account of the body's adaptation to the affect of stressors. Paradoxically, some of the psychological approaches have methodological problems with affect the value of the results. The debate, despite some limitations in research, can simply identify that stress unequivocally affects health and wellbeing. ...read more.

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