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Stress. Much of our understanding of the nature of stress can be traced back to the work of Hans Seyle in the 1930s. Seyles research on rats and other animals in the years 1936 and 1950

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Introduction

a) Much of our understanding of the nature of stress can be traced back to the work of Hans Seyle in the 1930s. Seyle's research on rats and other animals in the years 1936 and 1950 led him to conclude that when animals are exposed to unpleasant stimuli (for example, injections or extreme temperatures), they all react in the same sort of way. He described this universal response to stressors as the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS): 'general' because it was the same response to all agents, 'adaptation' because it actually was an adaptive response - the healthiest way to cope with extreme stress - and syndrome because there were several symptoms in the stress response. This theory entailed three stages in the cycle of stress. The first stage is known as the alarm reaction. This is the initial point when the threat or stressor is recognised, and a response is made to the alarm. Adrenaline is produced, leading to 'fight or flight' activity. In addition, there is some activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, producing cortisol. If the stress continues, the body progresses to the next stage - resistance. ...read more.

Middle

Much of our understanding of the nature of stress can be traced back to the work of Hans Seyle in the 1930s. From his research Seyle put forward his 'General Adaptation Syndrome' model, this model proposes that there is a universal response to stress, and explains the stages throughout this response. This model is characterised by three progressive stages; alarm reaction (stress response), resistance (apparent coping) and exhaustion (breakdown and the onset of other stress related illnesses). The GAS model proposed that stress leads to illness because the body's resources (e.g. glucose reserves) become depleted under extreme stress. Although this study has it's criticisms, findings from other research has too supported the notion that stress is related to illness. Krantz et al. (1991) is one of such studies, he conducted a study to investigate the possible link between stress and cardiovascular disorders. Patients with cardiovascular disorders (along with controls) were observed whilst carrying out numerous tasks that were designed to cause mild stress. From measurements of their blood pressure, and the extent to which blood vessels around the heart contracted, a number of conclusions were deduced. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is difficult to avoid stress, but it is a good idea to do as much as you can to reduce high levels of stress and anxiety throughout everyday life. In my opinion, physiological research has supported the idea that stress is related to illness to quite a big extent, out of all the studies I have looked at there is only one which opposes this idea. Although, exactly how stress causes illness is still not precisely known, the GAS model proposes that resources become depleted so that the body can no longer fight infections. However, more recent research has shown that many 'resources' do not become depleted even under extreme stress. The current view is that the exhaustion phase is associated with increased hormone activity, such as cortisol, and it is this rather than depletion of resources that leads to stress-related illness (Sheridan and Radmacher, 1992). There is no doubt that this research into stress, its effects and possible cures (if there are any) will continue, and in time it may be possible to reduce the effects of stress and educate people more about it. Kerry Phillips. 28th January 2005. St. Edwards School Sixth Form. Assignment 5. 1 Psychology. Topic: Stress. ...read more.

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