• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent does research (theories and/or studies) show a relationship between stress and physical illness?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent does research (theories and/or studies) show a relationship between stress and physical illness? (18) Stress is an example of a behaviour and experience explained in physiological and psychological terms. Recently awareness has been heightened concerning the harmful effects of stress and how it can be successfully managed and prevented. Lay definitions of stress seem to focus on a 'force' or some kind of mental pressure which is exerted upon an individual which is aversive. Stress is often associated with anxiety, strain, tension, distress and fatigue. The effects of stress include biochemical physiological and psychological changes, many of which are associated with ill health effects (Gatchel 1989). Thus medical and psychological research findings in this area are crucial in aiding our understanding of the issue, in order to minimise these effects on health. Stress is usually defined as an interaction between an individual and their environment and the way they interpret what is going on around them and how they are going to cope with it. This allows for individual differences in the way we perceive stressors e.g. divorce, and the way we feel we are able to cope with things. If we cannot cope with the situation we are faced with, then we experience psychological and physiological responses to the stressor. ...read more.


There is increasing evidence that stress can cause illness by impairing the workings of the immune system. The immune system protects the body from harmful viruses and bacteria cells known as lymphocytes recognise and destroy harmful viruses and bacteria. When the stress response is activated, the activity of the immune system is slowed/scaled down. One of the earliest studies into the effects of stress on the immune system was conducted by Riley 1981 using mice. He placed the mice on a rotating turntable thus creating stress. Riley measured the mice's lymphocyte count over a five-hour period and found a marked decrease, indicating suppression of the immune system. He also looked at the link between stress and tumour growth by implanting cells in mice, one group had ten minutes of rotation per hour for three days - high stress group, another had no stress. Riley found that the mice with no stress developed no tumours whereas the high stress group of mice developed large tumours. This study raised an ethical issue about the use of animals in lab tests/experiments. Also we should be cautious about generalising the findings from animal studies to humans, our pressures (concerned with relationships, money, work etc) ...read more.


They found that American men were more susceptible to heart disease than American women, even though their diets were very similar. They thought that job-related stress might be a contributing factor as most men worked, most women didn't. In a later study they found that accountants who were approaching a tax return deadline had a dangerously high level of serum cholesterol and a high blood clotting speed, which then returned to normal after the deadline. Friedman and Rosenman 1974 looked at 3000 men between the ages of 39-59 years. They were dived into two group type A - ambitious, competitive, easily angered and perfectionists. Type B - relaxed, easy-going, not driven to achieve perfection and not easily angered. They found within nine years of commencing the study 70% of the 257 who died were type A individuals (they took smoking and drinking into consideration). Therefore personality type and stress are closely related and together are related to the risk of CHD There is however, an unclear relationship between CHD and Type A personalities because they are more likely to have other known risk factors. Stress itself cannot cause CHD or any other illness. It is somehow linked to cardiovascular disorders and appears to play a role in hypertension - when a person experiences several weeks of high blood pressure and it's a major risk factor of CHD. Catrin Killa 2E AS Psychology - Rachel Evans 07/05/2007 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Physiological Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Physiological Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Outline and evaluate research into the effects of stress on the immune system and ...

    3 star(s)

    They in turn produce higher levels of fatty acids in the blood, all of which may lead to the narrowing of arteries, due to the fatty deposits on the artery walls -atherosclerosis. The term 'Type A' and 'Type B' personalities are too broad and include many factors.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Managing stress through Exercise and Therapy

    3 star(s)

    as throughout a regular day we deal with many people wether it is through work or dealing with family members. The benefits of having time to yourself are important as you get to slow your mind down and go through the things that are on your mind in a calm matter.

  1. Peer reviewed

    Outline and Evaluate research (theories/ and studies) into the relationship between stress and physical ...

    5 star(s)

    He identified the following three stages of a physiological response to stress: - Stage 1, Alarm - When the threat or stressor is recognized as stress.

  2. Stress can be explained as the stimulus in the environment that triggers a stress ...

    ...They Ranked Life Events on the Social Re-Adjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) 1. HOLMES & RAHE (1967), list of 43 common life events & asked people to give a score for each one on how stressful it was. They called the numbers that made up each score the Life Changes Unit (LCU).

  1. Anxiety Disorders

    Compulsions such as hand-washing may be a learned process. For example, in response to feeling contamination, you might wash your hands. This reduces your anxiety which feels good and in turn reinforces the hand-washing behavior. Because of this reinforcement, every time you experiences the obsession (such as contamination), you carry out the compulsion (such as washing their hands)

  2. Counselling - focus on the issue of alcoholism and the effect it has upon ...

    For example, linking symptoms of gastritis or the results of a blood test with alcohol consumption. Other brief interventions include advice of ways to cut down or stop drinking and offering material for the person affected to read. The specific behaviour that characterizes alcoholism is the consumption of significant quantities of alcohol on repeated occasions.

  1. People who are stressed often get ill; discuss research into the relationship between stress ...

    All of these happen due to the activation of HPA and SAM. The second stage is resistance, during this stage the body attempts to stabilise any psychological changes that may have occurred in the alarm stage.

  2. Describe and evaluate what psychological research has shown us about stress and the immune ...

    With no direct immune function measurements, this conclusion posed methodological flaws - it is inaccurate to state that the colds were caused as a direct result of reduction in immune function. Previous studies by Evans and Edgington (1991) however, found that the probability of developing a cold was significantly correlated

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work