Health & Illness

Q. Examine the relationship between stress and illness under the light of research studies. 10 marks

10 thoughts on “Health & Illness”

  1. Stress is external or internal event that disrupts our psychological and physical well-being. Stressors are the events that triggers stress. An optimal amount of stress is required to achieve the set target by a person. However, persistent stress has been found to have severe impact on health.

    A study conducted by two psychologist to find correlation between stress and illness, found positive correlation between the two. They invented Social Readjustment rating scale also known as Holmes and Rahe scale. The scale was given to US sailors and were asked to rate their past six months life events. Their health record was kept along. The sailors whose had stressful events in the past showed illness too. This hypothesis and experiment was enough to prove relation between stress and illness.

    Riley performed experiment on mice on turnaround table rotating at 45rpm. Both were injected with cancer cells. One was kept under experimental condition ie stress was given, another under controlled condition. After sometime it was observed experimental rat showed proliferation of cancerous cell.

    Janice Kiecolt-Glaser experiment shows blood sample of student during the examination time shows lower level lymphocytes which affects immune system.

    Mechanism involves is during stress adrelin cortex releases steroid (corticosteroids) in blood stream this inhibits production of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are responsible for fighting with any foreign body (virus, bacteria etc) in the body which results into poor immune system.

    Stress also produces bad habits eg smoking, irrational thinking, drinking, lack of exercise, loneliness, irritability etc which inturn prolongs the stress and affects health

  2. The relationship between stress and illness is strong and bi-directional.
    Evidences that stress leads to illness:
    1. Rileys experiment on rat confirms that stress acts as immunosuppressant and thus increasing the susceptibility to diseases such as cancer etc
    2. Selye’s three stage general adaptation syndrome implies that long term presence of stressor leads to increased cortisol levels. In second stage(stage of resistance), this inhibits manufacture of white blood cells causing adverse health effects. In third stage(stage of exhaustion) the body can no longer fight infection or the hormonal effects can cause ulcers, diabetes, cancer etc
    3. A correlation research study confirms that stressful event correlate to decrease in lymphocyte count.
    4. Holmer and Rahe’s Social readjustment rating scale confirm correlation between life changing events(stressor) and health issues.
    5. Diathesis stress model indicate how stressors can activate bilogically predisposed genes leading to psychological disorders eg:anxiety disorder, mood disorder etc
    6. Suzanne kobas study proves the effect of stress on non hardy individuals leading to health issues.
    Evidence that illness leads to stress:
    1. Holmer and rahe’s scale mentions personal injury and illness as an important stressor with a high LCU(life change units).

  3. Relationship between stress and illness is complex and dual in nature.

    It varies from person to person and influenced by following factors:
    1)genetic vulnerability.
    2)coping style.
    3)social support .
    4)personality differences.

    Not every stress is negative stress.
    STUDIES have shown that short term stress,if body tolerates that can help in overcoming lethargy or enhance performance.
    But if person have long term stress then it can have impact health and can cause mental and biological illness.

    Biological illness

    1)Impact of stress on our immune system:

    RESEARCH OF maier and watkins found that stress triggers the same response in immune system,that infection triggers.
    Basically stress weakens our immune system and decreses the WBC counts.Less WBC counts open doors for cold and viruses,local infections etc.

    2)On Heart:

    RECENT STUDIES shows that stress can cause heart disease by raising our blood pressure.
    RESEARCH OF brunner also shows that stress can lead us to follow unhealthy behaviour like smoking ,drinking etc. which also cause coronary heart disease.

    3)On cancer:

    ‘Herberman and ortaldo’ in 1981 saw in their studies that immune system cell NATURAL KILLER CELL has main function in supression of viruses.
    But stress actually depress these cells which make highly difficult for cancer patient to tackle.

    Mental illness

    In this field SCIENTISTS found that the time stress trigger brain ,chemicals in neurotransmitter are released.These chemicals are serotonin and dopamine.
    They particularly affect the area of memory and regulating emotions.

    Because of which mental problems like insomnia,bipolar disorder,depression and anxiety and panic attacks could occur .

    How illness can lead to stress:

    STUDIES have been done on people ill people which shows that they are able to get less sleep .Disturbed sleeping pattern result in imabalnce between reactive oxygen species and antioxidant response which results in stress.

  4. Does death of a closed one (a stressor) play a role in affecting a person’s health? As per several research studies, such as one conducted by Holmes and Rahe, the answer seems to be yes.
    Though there exist individual differences in the extent to which a person’s health is impacted by stress (stress-resistant or hardy individuals) and also there is an important role of primary and secondary cognitive appraisal processes, in general more the number of stressful events an individual experiences and longer their duration, greater is the likelihood that his health will be adversely affected.

    Also Hans Selye, through his General Adaptation Syndrome(GAS) model, points to how in the case of a chronic stressor, when the bodily resources are drained out but the stressor persists, it leads to exhaustion stage during which susceptibility to illness increases, which in severe cases may even lead to death. Thus establishing a positive correlational relationship between stress and illness.

    Now as to how stress leads to illness? It is found to reduce our immune system’s ability to fight off antigens and thereby increasing our susceptibility to illness.

    The Hassles Scale study by Lazarus, wherein the people who reported higher stress owing to daily hassles were found to have poorer psychological well-being, also suggests how stress is an important contributing factor to illness. .

  5. Stress is the physical and emotional strain one can display as a response to pressure from outside world.The pressure and consequence response can be acute or chronic,whereas illness is the state of poor health.
    The relationship between stress and illness is complex,susceptibility to stress varies from person to person and studies have shown that short term stress boost immune system, but chronic stress has significant effect on immune system which manifest an illness.pyschologist and other health professionals have conclusive evidence to support the relationship between stress and illness.
    Hans selye studied the body’s response to stress using his experiment on rats,he finds repetitive exposure exposure to stress reduces body’s ability to fight illness,he says that humans and other animals respond to different psychological and physical scenario with same physiological activation.(The general Adaptation syndrome)
    The body response to stress in two ways:an eustress(positive stress)will lead to release of hormones ‘the fight or flight’s.when scenario leads to state of distress (negative stress)body reach exhaustion which leads to hormonal fluctuations,in turn the body immune system leads to stress related conditions such as high blood pressure,ulcers and depression.
    Stress can also cause release of ACTH (Adrenocorticotrpic hormone)from pituitary gland leading to release of inflammatory hormones that inhibit functions of white blood cells.
    Glaser and kiecolt explains that even brief period of stress such as school exams can lead to a significant suppression to our immune system.
    Czeisler,MooreEde, and Coleman found that manual shift workers who work shift patterns for instance having to adjust one body clock to another will result in considerable stress related accident at work which is due to sleep deprivation and chronic feelings of ill health.
    Brady’s studied relationship between high level of stress and high level of hormone production that eventually leads to stomach ulcer.
    Wills says that adolescents who experience high level of stress are more likely to start smoking which may cause heart and respiratory diseases.
    Psychologist also says that their is also other indirect effect of stress on immune system,people who are stress tend to expose themselves to (pathogen) diseases causing organisms which may cause physical illness.
    Williams and co reported study linking personality and stress related diseases. They found that Type A personality people are prone to risk of high blood pressure,heart attack and other cardiovascular related diseases because of their restless,impatient and hostile behavior.

    1. Almost appropriate.. Mind the factual errors. David Graham started examining relationship between personality and illness. Type A behaviour has been conceptualised by Rosenmen and Friedman..

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