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Over the last thirty years much has been written about the causes and symptoms of stress experienced in different social interaction as well as in individual's day to day life experiences. Stress is a substantial reaction to an unwanted circumstance and may moreover be gentle or harsh. An ordinary basis of both gentle and harsh stress is work. In fact stress can either be short- term (sharp) or long - term (constant). Acute stress is a response to an instant danger which might be genuine or apparent. Chronic stress conversely engages circumstances that aren't short -lived such as association's problems, work place heaviness and fiscal or health worries.
In deed it is worth saying that all jobs involves stress and nothing can be done to eliminate stress all together even though stress can either be negative or positive in so far as its effects are concerned although most authorities emphasizes the negative impacts.
However development of appropriate approaches at the work place combined with effective strategies of dealing with stress that often occur can help in minimizing the impact of stress. According to Alder at el (2009) stress is now the second largest cause of work related ill health and sickness in Europe. Thus due to the grave impact associated with stress, organized solutions that aim at addressing the causes of stress are more desirable while compared with interventions that target individual coping skills or even counseling measures that aims at assisting patients, although the best approach embraces all the three coping models.
Among the causes of stress is job insecurity which often leads to anxiety and increased worries among the affected individuals. Research shows that job insecurity leads to increased self reported ill health and clinical symptoms with those at the lowest level of the community being the most affected. This is because human beings are always curious about their future chances of survival and continuity for that matter.
Stress is strongly associated with lowered mental well being and an employment is a serious stressful event. A study by Waich & Lewis (1995) on 7726 adults drawn from the British household panel study found that un employment was associated with maintenance of episodes of most common mental disorders while according to other studies by Weir (1978) an index of present life satisfaction was found to be strongly negatively associated with unemployment for both redundant steel- workers and men attending unemployment benefit offices. Therefore in universal unconfident re- employment and joblessness are connected with augmented minor psychiatric morbidity and that being enduringly out of paid work is linked with long term poor health.
Psychological health is also affected by financial problems which increase the frequency of stressful events. In addition mental health is also affected by decreased social activity and participation as well as diminishing social support from close relatives in the face of scarce financial resources. Even though alternative social net works may eventually be formed by affected individuals, it may involve amalgamation of groups whose members deviate from the norms and values of the mainstream society.
In addition the introduction of new technology is also a major cause of psychological distress particularly among the lower paid, less skilled and elderly workers. This due to the fear of loosing their livelihood due to new skills requirement and professional demands that are often associated with new innovations.
Consequently the experience of chronic pain can lead to a sense of helplessness or hopelessness and depression as the patient realizes that medical intervention is unable to provide a care (Boston et al 1990). In deed the nature of the pain and its debilitating effects can cause the individuals to focus further on their condition and the incumbent pain. Necessitated restrictions in levels of activity and alcohol intake may for example make patients to feel that their social life has been severely curtailed and the resultant feeling of depression, irritability or aggressive behavior may cause all but the closest family to withdraw from social interaction with them.
Hence over time chronic pain can come to dominate individual lives and they may come to adopt the sick role. Such long term pains are identified as causal neuralgia often associated with severe and burning pain that occurs at the site of an old would sometimes many years after healing and whose frequency of pain may increase over time. The other cause is due to phantom limb often characterized by moderate or intense pain occurring at the site of an amputated limb or some other body parts.
The stress reaction replete with commonly known symptoms such as fear, anxiety and anger is only part of this process. In deed the psychological stress response broadly encompasses our emotions, cognation and behavior which may be identified by the presence of symptoms such as impatience and increased irritability, feeling of anger and aggressive outbursts. Also individuals are characterized by feeling of worthlessness, are upset by minor changes and excessive use of drugs to wind down.
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On the other hand the physiological stress response is characterized by the action of the sympathetic nervous system and a long term response mediated by the endocrine system. The short term response is recognized by symptoms such as increased heart rate, chest pain while the long term response is exhibited by feeling generally rundown, muscle pain, menstrual irregularities for women and heart diseases across the gender.
While according to Platt (1999) Stress also suppresses the immune system often resulting to opportunistic diseases as well as other infectious diseases. The biological explanation model on the effects of stress suggests that the body respond to stress by mobilizing its coping abilities which alarm the body to prepare resistance. However when the resistive mechanism are exhausted, physiological breakdown occurs and the body become highly susceptible to diseases. This description of stress is however primarily a pathogen model in which threats to the organism are physiological and the response is based on mobilization to fight off this infectious disease.
However according to Ellis (1962) the negative effects of stressors may be greatly increased when underpinned by irrational beliefs or faulty thinking. In such cases professional help may be sought to help the individual identify negative thoughts and to replace them with more positive ones. If the root cause is chronic low esteem, psychotherapy or assertiveness training may be indicated. Thus the trick of eluding stress is to recognize negative self statement or thought and putting things in the positive context and thus enabling one to concentrate on the positives aspect of life rather than dwelling in the negative field.
In conclusion there are a number of theories which have been put forward to explain stress and infections. Among them is psychoanalytic theory which looked upon asthma as an example of a somatic dysfunctional that was really an explanation of an underlying, unconscious psychodynamic conflict. As such asthma was just a symptom which symbolically expressed an anxiety neurosis. According to this theory the continuous functional stress arising out of everyday contacts with the environment causes chronic disturbances in the organ system of the individual. Based on the cannon's work on the autonomic nervous system disturbance of vegetative function were considered to arise because of either fight or flight behavior or the dependent help seeking behavior is blocked. Whenever over expression behavior is blocked, the resulting sustained excitation of the sympathetic nervous system would lead to disturbances in neuro-endocrine system that ultimately leads to diseases like hypertension or migraine headaches. Hover this theory is disregarded by the empirical research for it seems virtually impossible to gather evidence that would support the primacy of psychological or stress features as the cause of asthma. Further more the patient immune response function increasing inflammation of the airways is considered to be a characteristic feature of asthma. Stress may reduce the ability of organism to ward off infectious agents which intern may increase susceptibility to inflammation and there by asthma attack.
Thus if stress can be shown to be an important factor influencing susceptibility to disease then the possibility exist that interventions designed to reduce stress or to help individuals to cope better with unavoidable stress may lower the incidence of disease and assist the recovery of those who are already ill. Most researchers confer that it is difficult to carry out well controlled research in this area and most of what has been done is open to range of possible interpretations. Two shortcomings are associated with stress oriented research.
First, retrospective studies may have a substantial response bias because people are more likely to recall experiencing stress in periods presiding illness than at other times. Secondly, all studies that rely on self reports of illness may have a response bias because people who consider they to be suffering from stress are more likely than none stressed individuals to interpret minor ailments as symptoms of illness.
On the other hand, well designed studies that may investigate the relationship between exposure to stress and subsequent biological verified illness may still present problem of interpretation. It has been shown that people who are experiencing stress are more likely than others to indulge in health hazardous behavior such as heavy smoking, drinking, drug taking, poor diet, in adequate sleep and lack of exercise. Thus it could be that stress act only indirectly as a cause of illness in so far as it influences healthy behavior.
Further issues have been raised that point in the opposite direction, to the possibility that current research may produce underestimates. These issues derive partly from work on the relationship between personality and illness considered. One argument has been that some individuals posses personal characteristics that make them resistant to the effect of stress. Among the personal characteristics that have been suggested as having this functional are internal locus control, self efficacy, hardiness and sense of coherence. Thus if stress causes illness in people with vulnerable personalities then it may be misleading to calculate the size of the effect of stress on illness by suing general population samples that include many who are relatively insensitive to these effects.
A further issue is the potential mediating effect of social support on the relationship between stress and illness. There is extensive evidence that people with strong networks of social support live longer and enjoy better health than relatively isolated individuals. Uchino et al (1996), notes that high quality social support appears to have beneficial effects on aspects of the cardiovascular, endocrine and immune system. In seeking to explain this relationship, one influential hypothesis is that social support has a baffling effect against stress so that stress is only likely to cause illness among individuals with relatively low level of support. Uchino et al argues that evidence from a number of studies demonstrate the existence of such stress baffling effects.
Thus if the above considerations are valid then stress is only likely to have strong effects on susceptibility to illness among individuals who scores low on internal locus of control, self- efficacy, hardiness and sense of coherence and who have low level of perceived social support. Therefore studies of stress causes and illness as symptoms in psychology are broad but the link between stress and illness must be linked on case study approach because any link that is based on representative population samples may greatly underestimate the potential effects of stress because they include many individuals for whom the effect is likely to be small.