Psychological Stressors

by taratuta

Category: Documents





Psychological Stressors
Understanding Stress and Stressors
Catastrophic events such as terrorism,
explosions, hurricanes, plane crashes,
school shootings, and other traumas are
stressors that can be psychologically
devastating for victims, their families,
and rescue workers. As was the case in
the wake of the 2005 terrorist attacks on
the London transit system, health
psychologists and other professionals
provide on-the-spot counseling and
follow-up sessions to help people deal
with the consequences of trauma.
Psychological Stressors
Most of our stressors have both physical and psychological components. Because these
components overlap, it is often difficult to separate them for analysis. For example, students are challenged by psychological demands to do well in their courses, as well as
by physical fatigue resulting from a heavy load of classes, and maybe a job and family
responsibilities, too. So although we focus here on psychological stressors, remember
that physical stressors almost always accompany them.
Any event that forces a person to change or adapt can be a psychological stressor.
Even pleasant events can be stressful. For example, a vacation is supposed to be relaxing and a wedding is supposed to be wonderful, but both can also be exhausting. And
a promotion that brings higher pay can also bring new pressures (Schaubroeck,
Jones, & Xie, 2001). Still, it is usually unpleasant circumstances that produce the most
adverse psychological and physical effects (e.g., Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2005). These circumstances include catastrophic events, life changes and strains, chronic stressors,
and daily hassles.
Catastrophic events are sudden, unexpected, potentially life-threatening experiences
or traumas. Physical or sexual assault, military combat, natural disasters, terrorist
attacks, and accidents fall into this category. Life changes and strains include divorce,
illness in the family, difficulties at work, moving to a new house, and other circumstances that create demands to which people must adjust (see Table 10.2). Chronic
stressors—those that continue over a long period of time—include such circumstances
as living under the threat of terrorism, having a serious illness, being unable to earn a
decent living, residing in a high-crime neighborhood, being the victim of discrimination, and even enduring years of academic pressure. Finally, daily hassles involve irritations, pressures, and annoyances that may not be major stressors by themselves but
whose effects add up to become significant (Almeida, 2005; Evans & Wener, 2006).
The frustrations of daily commuting in heavy traffic, for example, can become so
intense for some drivers that they display a pattern of aggression called “road rage”
(Levy et al., 1997; Rathbone & Huckabee, 1999).
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