Stress and Health

Stress and Health


  1. Identify the major concerns of health psychology.

  2. Describe the biology of the "fight-or-flight" response to stress and the physical characteristics and phases of the general adaptation syndrome.

  3. Discuss the health consequences of catastrophes, significant life changes, and daily hassles.

  4. Describe the effects of personal lack of control, economic inequality, and a pessimistic outlook on health.

  5. Discuss the role of stress in causing coronary heart disease, and contrast Type A and Type B personalities.

  6. Describe how stress increases the risk of disease by inhibiting the activity of the body’s immune system.

  7. Describe the impact of learning on immune system functioning.

  8. Identify and discuss different strategies for coping with stress, and explain why people should be skeptical about the value of complementary and alternative medicine.

  9. Explain why people smoke, and discuss ways of preventing and reducing this health hazard.

  10. Discuss the relationship between nutrition and physical well-being, and describe the research findings on obesity and weight control.


Stress:  the process by which we perceive and respond to certain events, called stressors, that we appraise as threatening or challenging

General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS): Selye’s concept of the body’s adaptive response to stress in three stages- alarm, resistance, exhaustion

Health Psychology: a subfield of psychology that provides psychology’s contribution to behavioral medicine

Behavioral Medicine: an interdisciplinary field that integrates behavioral and medical knowledge and applies that knowledge to health and disease

Burnout: physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion brought on by persistent job-related stress

Coronary Heart Disease: the clogging of the vessels that nourish the heart muscle; the leading cause of death in the United States

Type A: Friedman and Rosenman’s term for competitive, hard-driving, impatient, verbally aggressive, and anger-prone people

Type B: Friedman and Rosenman’s term for easygoing, relaxed people

Psychophysiological illness: literally, “mind-body” illness; any stress-related physical illness, such as hypertension and some headaches.  Note: This is distinct from hypochondriasis – misinterpreting normal physical sensations as symptoms of a disease

Lymphocytes: the two types of white blood cells that are part of the body’s immune system: B lymphocytes form in the bone marrow and release antibodies that fight bacterial infections; T lymphocytes form in the thymus and among other duties, attack cancer cells, viruses, and foreign substances

Biofeedback: a system for electronically recording, amplifying, and feeding back information regarding a subtle physiological state, such as blood pressure or muscle tension