Stress Disorders

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  1. Stress can be the root cause of psychological disorders. Name four symptoms shared by acute and post-traumatic stress disorders.
    Four symptoms that both post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and acute stress disorders (ASD) have in common are re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoidance, reduced responsiveness; and increased arousal, anxiety, and guilt (Nevid & Rathus, 2005). Ways in which victims of PTSD and ASD re-experience a causal traumatic event include dreams, recurring memories, and flashbacks. Avoidance pertains to a victim avoiding activities or situations that remind them of the traumatic event. Also, such avoidance could eventually lead to a phobia if the person associates an unrelated object, situation, etc… with the traumatic event. Some people who are experiencing PTSD or ASD exhibit signs of dissociation or reduced responsiveness. Lastly, victims can exhibit heightened arousal or anxiety related to the traumatic event they went through. The only major difference between PTSD and ASD is the time period in which the person is suffering. ASD applies to symptoms that occur within four weeks of the event in question and last for less than a month. On the other hand, PTSD refers to any symptoms that last beyond that time frame.
  2. What life events are most likely to trigger a stress disorder?
    Events that could trigger a stress disorder are earthquakes, an airplane crash, combat, rape, victimization, disasters, abuse, floods, fires, serious car accidents, tornadoes, hurricanes, sexual assault, physical assault, and exposure to terrorism (Nevid & Rathus, 2005). Situations in which a person is directly involved, such as victims of the 9-11 attacks, suffer from stronger and more persistent PTSD and ASD related symptoms.
  3. Traumatic events do not always result in a diagnosable psychological disorder. What factors determine how a person may be affected by one such event?
    One major factor in the development of psychological disorders is a person’s ability to cope with, “stressors in stride and to respond well” (Nevid & Rathus, 2005, 133). Furthermore, abnormal activity of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine can predispose someone to severe reactions to traumatic events. Also, if a person’s biochemical reaction to stress is more pronounced than normal psychological disorders are more likely after stressful events. Moreover, if someone views negative life events as out of their control or already suffer from a psychological disorder they are much more likely to develop PTSD and ASD after a traumatic event. Other contributing factors could be childhood poverty, having family members who suffer from psychological problems, assault, abuse, early childhood divorce of parents, and poor social support systems.
  4. What are the four stages in meeting the psychological needs of disaster victims?
    Four stages in meeting psychological needs of disaster victims are familiarizing a victim with possible reactions to the traumatic event, encouraging the vocalization of anxieties, anger, and frustrations, helping survivors develop self-help techniques, and referring survivors to long-term counseling if necessary (Nevid, & Rathus, 2005). Some possible symptoms of PTSD and ASD which might need to be mentioned to the survivors are sleep deprivation, feelings of grief, and difficulty concentrating. Furthermore, 15 to 25 percent of observers require specialized assistance, so the use of referrals might be required.
  5. What is the link between personality styles and heart disease?
    It appears that the macho man image, characterized by anger, hostility, and a reluctance to express discomfort, is highly correlated with elevated blood pressure when under stress (Nevid & Rathus, 2005). Furthermore, people who exhibit a Type A personality style are at higher risk of developing psycho-physiological disorders. The Type A personality style is exemplified by impatience, ambition, and consistent anger and competitiveness. Many studies have shown that these characteristics, as opposed to those of the Type B personality style, are implicated in the development of coronary heart disease.
  6. List and briefly describe four psychological treatments for physical disorders.
    Relaxation training is one approach to the treatment of psycho-physiological disorders. In addition, relaxation training is usually combined with medication which collectively can be very effective in treating a wide range of disorders. Biofeedback is another type of treatment for physical disorders, which makes use of machinery to inform the client about their involuntary body activities. The point of biofeedback is to allow the client to start to control these involuntary body activities so that stress can be moderated more effectively. Furthermore, meditation is the practice of temporarily ignoring all external and internal stressors in an attempt to turn one’s consciousness inward. Lastly, cognitive intervention focuses on modifying self-statements in order to control pain. In this practice, a patient will replace negative self-statements with more positive self-statements.
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Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new millennium (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.


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