Health and Stress Assignment Case Study

Health and Stress Assignment Case Study

We all experience stress, to some degree, in our daily life. From work to busy schedules, from important relationships to our goals and dreams, we have competing priorities and it’s a lot to keep on top of. But while a limited amount of stress is normal, and even healthy, continuous or severe stress can be very harmful to your physical and mental health.Health and Stress Assignment Case Study Because all stress isn’t the same and different types of stress affect us in ways that are somewhat unique, it helps to understand the different types of stress and how to best manage each, so you can tackle stress in the most effective ways.

Types of Stress

Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain. However, not all types of stress are harmful or even negative. There are a few different types of stress that we encounter:

  • Eustress, a type of stress that is fun and exciting, and keeps us energized. This is the kind of stress we associate with surges of adrenaline, such as when you are skiing or racing to meet a deadline.
  • Acute Stress, a very short-term type of stress that can either be positive or more distressing. This is the type of stress we most often encounter in day-to-day life.Health and Stress Assignment Case Study
  • Episodic Acute Stress, where acute stress seems to run rampant and be a way of life, creating a life of relative chaos.
  • Chronic Stress, the type of stress that seems never-ending and inescapable, like the stress of a bad marriage or an extremely taxing job.

 

Stress and the Flight-or-Flight Response

Stress can trigger the body’s response to perceived threat or danger, the Fight-or-Flight response. During this reaction, certain hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are released, speeding the heart rate, slowing digestion, shunting blood flow to major muscle groups, and changing various other autonomic nervous functions, giving the body a burst of energy and strength. Originally named for its ability to enable us to physically fight or run away when faced with danger, it’s now activated in situations where neither response is appropriate, like in traffic or during a stressful day at work.Health and Stress Assignment Case Study When the perceived threat is gone, systems are designed to return to normal function via the relaxation response, but in our times of chronic stress, this often doesn’t happen enough, causing damage to the body.

 

The Impact on Your Health

When faced with chronic stress and an over-activated autonomic nervous system, people begin to see a negative impact on their health. The first symptoms are relatively mild, like chronic headaches and increased susceptibility to colds. With more exposure to chronic stress, however, more serious health problems may develop. These stress-influenced conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • depression
  • diabetes
  • hair loss
  • heart disease
  • hyperthyroidism
  • obesity
  • obsessive-compulsive or anxiety disorder
  • sexual dysfunction
  • tooth and gum disease
  • ulcers

The effects of stress impact us emotionally as well, which is a truth both obvious and often ignored. While some stress may produce feelings of mild anxiety or frustration, prolonged stress can lead to burnout, anxiety disorders, and depression.Health and Stress Assignment Case Study A study of stress in America by the American Psychological Association shows that a large proportion of people (roughly one-quarter of respondents) feel their stress levels are harmful to their physical and emotional health and feel they aren’t doing enough to manage the stress.

While short-term stress is usually harmless, prolonged stress can have serious implications for your health. If you are battling stress and are beginning to show physical symptoms, consult with your doctor about ways to manage your stress levels in a healthy way.

Stressors have a major influence upon mood, our sense of well-being, behavior, and health. Acute stress responses in young, healthy individuals may be adaptive and typically do not impose a health burden. However, if the threat is unremitting, particularly in older or unhealthy individuals, the long-term effects of stressors can damage health. The relationship between psychosocial stressors and disease is affected by the nature, number, and persistence of the stressors as well as by the individual’s biological vulnerability (i.e., genetics, constitutional factors), psychosocial resources, and learned patterns of coping. Psychosocial interventions have proven useful for treating stress-related disorders and may influence the course of chronic diseases.Health and Stress Assignment Case Study

Keywords: psychosocial stressors, stress responses, homeostasis, psychosocial interventions, host vulnerability-stressor interactions

Health Problems Related to Stress

What are some of the most significant health problems related to stress? Here’s a sampling.

  1. Heart disease. Researchers have long suspected that the stressed-out, type A personality has a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. We don’t know why, exactly. Stress can directly increase heart rate and blood flow, and causes the release of cholesterol and triglycerides into the blood stream. It’s also possible that stress is related to other problems — an increased likelihood of smoking or obesity — that indirectly increase the heart risks.
    Doctors do know that sudden emotional stress can be a trigger for serious cardiac problems, including heart attacks. People who have chronic heart problems need to avoid acute stress — and learn how to successfully manage life’s unavoidable stresses — as much as they can.
  2. Asthma. Many studies have shown that stress can worsen asthma. Some evidence suggests that a parent’s chronic stress might even increase the risk of developing asthma in their children. One study looked at how parental stress affected the asthma rates of young children who were also exposed to air pollution or whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. The kids with stressed out parents had a substantially higher risk of developing asthma.Health and Stress Assignment Case Study
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  4. Obesity. Excess fat in the belly seems to pose greater health risks than fat on the legs or hips — and unfortunately, that’s just where people with high stress seem to store it. “Stress causes higher levels of the hormone cortisol,” says Winner, “and that seems to increase the amount of fat that’s deposited in the abdomen.”
  5. Diabetes. Stress can worsen diabetes in two ways. First, it increases the likelihood of bad behaviors, such as unhealthy eating and excessive drinking. Second, stress seems to raise the glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes directly.
  6. Headaches. Stress is considered one of the most common triggers for headaches — not just tension headaches, but migraines as well.
  7. Depression and anxiety. It’s probably no surprise that chronic stress is connected with higher rates of depression and anxiety. One survey of recent studies found that people who had stress related to their jobs — like demanding work with few rewards — had an 80% higher risk of developing depression within a few years than people with lower stress.
  8. Gastrointestinal problems. Here’s one thing that stress doesn’t do — it doesn’t cause ulcers. However, it can make them worse. Stress is also a common factor in many other GI conditions, such as chronic heartburn (or gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Winner says.
  9. Alzheimer’s disease. One animal study found that stress might worsen Alzheimer’s disease, causing its brain lesions to form more quickly. Some researchers speculate that reducing stress has the potential to slow down the progression of the disease.Health and Stress Assignment Case Study
  10. Accelerated aging. There’s actually evidence that stress can affect how you age. One study compared the DNA of mothers who were under high stress — they were caring for a chronically ill child — with women who were not. Researchers found that a particular region of the chromosomes showed the effects of accelerated aging. Stress seemed to accelerate aging about 9 to 17 additional years.
  11. Premature death. A study looked at the health effects of stress by studying elderly caregivers looking after their spouses — people who are naturally under a great deal of stress. It found that caregivers had a 63% higher rate of death than people their age who were not caregivers.

Common effects of stress

Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Common effects of stress on your body

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

Common effects of stress on your mood

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

Common effects of stress on your behavior

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

Act to manage stress

If you have stress symptoms, taking steps to manage your stress can have numerous health benefits. Explore stress management strategies, such as:Health and Stress Assignment Case Study

  • Regular physical activity
  • Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi or getting a massage
  • Keeping a sense of humor
  • Socializing with family and friends
  • Setting aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music

Aim to find active ways to manage your stress. Inactive ways you may use to manage stress — such as watching television, surfing the Internet or playing video games — may seem relaxing, but they may increase your stress over the long term.

And be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid tobacco use, excess caffeine and alcohol intake, and the use of illicit substances. Health and Stress Assignment Case Study

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