Study on the Relationship Between Stress and Illness

Symptoms of stress can be visible in various ways including literally, emotionally or emotionally. This is dependent upon what is producing the stress to occur.


A demanding situation can cause the body to show various symptoms including anxiety headaches, failure to sleep, high blood pressure, problems with the digestive system, nervousness, alopecia, and strokes. A cause of physical stress could be a car accident or starvation such as that associated with eating disorders.


Stress which affects the mind can cause emotional replies such as anxiety, depressive disorder and irritability, inability to handle day to day situations, memory damage and an lack of ability to concentrate. Psychological stress could be the effect of a bereavement.


A one who experiences long-term stress may develop mental health problems. This may manifest as communal isolation, phobias, compulsive behaviours and eating disorders such as overeating for comfort. Mental stress can be triggered by the individual having a bad trip to work.

Stressors, the reason for stress, can be described as "situations that are experienced as a perceived menace to one's wellbeing or position in life, when the challenge of dealing with which, exceeds the person's perceived available resources".

When a person encounters stressors your body responds with battle or flight. This reaction causes the release of adrenaline and cortisol which improve the heartrate and decrease the digestion rate. The body's blood supply is diverted to the large muscles providing a burst of energy and strength. The reaction will last throughout the perceived hazard and your body returns to normal. The reaction might not completely diminish in someone experiencing chronic stress which can lead to long term health issues.

The general adaptation syndrome (GAS) was referred to by Hans De Selye during the 1920s. It's the short and long term reaction of the body to stress and is also a three level process.

The first level of GAS is called the alarm response. During this level the deal with or trip response is activated in the body as an instantaneous a reaction to the tense situation. This response can lead to the person being vunerable to illness because of the disease fighting capability being suppressed.

The second stage of GAS is called adaptation. Persisted stress causes your body to adapt to the cause of stress to reduce the effects on the body. This may be the problem for someone with an eating disorder whose body adapts to soak up the maximum nutrients from the meals eaten or even to save energy.

The third level of GAS is named exhaustion where in fact the body has been exposed to a stressor for a prolonged time frame and is no longer able to deal with the stress. The lead to your body could be severe limitation in the ability of the disease fighting capability to fight disease and the individual may experience cardiac arrest.

The general version syndrome recognizes three stages of a reaction to stressful situations an individual may experience. This theory recognizes that the greater prolonged the exposure to stress is the more serious the reaction is at terms of the health. A durability of GAS is that if an individual is aware of the processes involved they'll be in a position to seek help before their symptoms become life threatening. This would rely on the individual having the ability to identify that intervention is necessary at the earliest opportunity. A restriction of the idea is the fact that whilst figuring out the phases a person may experience it does not offer any solutions to alleviate the stress.

Friedman and Rosenman (1974) determined two types of personality associated with how individuals respond to stress. Type A personalities were identified as being "impatient, competitive, ambitious, intense" they could also experience difficulty in relaxing. A person with Type B personality was discovered as "being less powered, more easy-going, patient and in a position to relax". Friedman and Rosenman completed research over 8 years monitoring the health and lifestyle of 3500 healthy men. The study figured a person with Type A personality experienced a significantly increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.

This study revealed that the populace can be split into two distinct groups of personality traits. A person's a reaction to stress is corresponding to this research immediately related to the personality type the individual has.

This theory is limited by the necessity to know the personality type one is in order to recognize if they are at an elevated risk of developing health issues related to stress. An good thing about this theory is the fact by being alert to the personality type strategies can be put into destination to prevent stress from creating health issues.

Brady (1958) conducted a behavioural stress analysis on monkeys. The monkeys were paired and strapped into chair before being given electric shocks every 20 mere seconds. Each monkey experienced levers and lighting which warned them of the imminent great shock. One monkey the "executive" could use a lever to avoid the distress from being given. The other monkey "yoked" had not been in a position to control the shock. The executive monkey experienced stress in needing to press the lever at the correct time. Brady found that over a time frame the professional monkeys developed gastric ulcers and may have died however the yoked monkeys didn't develop ulcers as they did not go through the same level of stress due to their behaviour not influencing the supervision of the impact.

This study was conducted on monkeys not humans who may have reacted in a different way to the stressor the professional monkeys were subjected to. The response in humans might not have been so severe for the reason that they might not have died. The study was not worried about the welfare of the monkeys used. The restriction of this review is the fact that by performing it on monkeys it is not necessarily accurate to connect the leads to individuals stress as the results might have been different. An benefit of this review could be that required behaviour has been recognized as a reason behind stress which can cause health issues.

Marmot et al (1997) conducted research into a cognitive method of stress. The aim of the analysis was to establish if a lack of control at work caused a rise in the occurrence of stress related disorder. The research was conducted over an interval of 3 years using over 10, 000 civil servants. Do it yourself record questionnaires were completed to assess the level of job control the individuals had. There were also assessments completed by personnel managers. The researchers then likened the leads to incidence of stress related disorder. The study found that personnel with less work control were at a significant increased threat of dying from a heart attack than those with more control. The staff with less control were also found to become more more likely to have other stress related diseases.

A limitation of this research into a cognitive method of stress is the fact the analysis focussed on one specific band of employees whilst the results suggested that stress related health issues increased among people that have minimal control in the task environment the analysis does not identify if this is true for the entire population. An advantage is that the study could be employed and repeated in other workplaces to identify when there is a lack of control thought by employees. This would allow employers to improve the degree of control with the purpose of stopping stress related diseases.

In conclusion it is possible that areas discussed show how stress can affect us and can cause condition as a result. Stress caused by having a combination of cognitive and behavioural factors creates physiological symptoms which in turn have a harmful effect on the body.

The human body can adjust to a certain degree of stress however if the strain continues long term it can have a devastating effect on your body.

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