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Chapter 5: Psychology and Physical Health

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Stephanie Nelson

on 14 September 2013

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Transcript of Chapter 5: Psychology and Physical Health

Chapter 5: Psychology and Physical Health
Stress, Personality and Illness
Habits, Lifestyles, and Health
Unhealthy habits are responsible for about 1/2 of all deaths each year
smoking, poor diet/physical inactivity, alcohol consumption, unsafe driving, STDs, illicit drug use
Why do they do it?
Some habits creep up slowly, pleasurable at the time, the risks take 10, 20, 30 years to develop, people underestimate the risks
Reactions to Illness
Chronic diseases--conditions that develop across many years (heart disease, cancer, stroke)

Contagious diseases--those caused by specific infectious agents (measles, flu, TB)
Biopsychosocial model
Physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.
Health Psychology
Concerned with how psychosocial factors relate to the promotion and maintenance of health and with the causation, prevention, and treatment of illness
Risk Factors
high cholesterol levels
high blood pressure
Contributing Factors

Presence of stress and depression can be related to inflammation.
Hostility and Coronary Risk
1. a strong competitive orientation
2. impatience and time urgency
3. anger and hostility

marked by relatively relaxed, patient, easygoing, amicable behavior
Type B Personality:
Type A Personality:
a persistent negative attitude marked by cynical, mistrusting thoughts, feelings of anger, and overtly aggressive actions.

In studies, participants with above average hostility scores were twice as likely to exhibit atherosclerosis as participants with below-average hostility scores.

Recent research suggests that hostility may be the crucial toxic element that accounts for the correlation between Type A behavior and heart disease

Anger and Hostility
Anger: an unpleasant emotion that is accompanied by physiological arousal
Hostility: a negative attitude toward others.

How people deal with anger may create a link to hostility toward others. Linking the two:
1. exhibit greater physiological reactivity
2. create additional stress for themselves
3. less social support than others (antagonistic).
4. higher prevalence of poor health habits--more likely to smoke, drink, be overweight
Emotional Reactions and Heart Disease
transient mental stress and the resulting emotions can tax the heart
keeping negative emotions to yourself is potentially more harmful than expressing anger toward others.
rumination: repetitive, negative thinking about some event--heightens negative feelings & depression
can increase people's risk or cardiac problems

Depression and Heart Disease
Studies have shown elevated rates of depression in patients suffering from heart disease

Studies in the last decade have suggested that the emotional dysfunction of depression may cause heart disease.

Damage to the arteries of the heart has been found among depressed teens.

Depression doubles a person's chance of developing heart disease.
Stress and Cancer
Cancer: a malignant cell growth, which may occur in many organ systems in the body. Cells begin to reproduce in a rapid, disorganized fashion.

Research linking stress to the onset of cancer weak.

Stress is related to, but not necessarily the cause of cancer.
Stress and personality influence the course of the disease.

Mortality rates are higher in patients who respond with depression, repressive coping, and other neg. emotions.
Prospects are better for patients who can maintain their emotional stability and enthusiasm.
Stress and Immune Functioning
The immune response: the body's defensive reaction to invasion by bacteria, viral agents, or other foreign substances.

Chronic stress can reduce both:
cellular immune responses--attack intracellular
pathogens, such as viruses
humoral immune responses--attack extracellular
pathogens, such as bacteria
Duration of a stressful event is a key factor determining its impact on immune function.

Chronic stress may produce premature aging of immune system cells
As people grow older, their immune systems do not fight off illness as well, in the face of stress.
Stress can temporarily suppress human immune functioning, which can make people more vulnerable to infectious disease agents.

Stress and Other diseases
Stress has been clearly implicated in the common cold.

People who are social and agreeable are at lower risk of getting a cold after viral exposure.

Correlations have been found between life stress and the course of rheumatoid arthritis, lower back pain, asthmatic reactions, periodontal disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and peptic ulcers.
Why do they do it? They claim it elevates mood, suppresses hunger, enhances alertness/attention

Premature Death (13-14 years shorter)
Tobacco: 500 chemicals
Smoke: 4000 chemicals
Twice as likely to die of cardiovascular disease
Elevated risk for oral, bladder, kidney, larynx, esophagus, pancreatic cancer; atherosclerosis, hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular diseases; bronchitis, emphysema, other pulmonary diseases.
70% would like to quit
Success rates: 25%
Studies have shown that nicotine substitutes slightly increase long term rates of quitting
Poor Nutrition
Nutrition: a collection of processes (mainly food consumption) through which an organism utilizes the materials (nutrients) required for survival and growth.

Lack of Exercise
Benefits of exercise:
reduces susceptibility to cardiovascular problems
avoid obesity
reduce risk of colon, breast, and reproductive cancer
reduces damaging effects of stress
boosts mental health leading to positive effects on physical health
Devising an exercise program:
Look for an activity that you will find enjoyable
Exercise regularly without overdoing it
Increase the amount of time you exercise gradually
Reinforce yourself for your participation
It's never too late to begin an exercise program
Behavior and AIDS
Transmission: person to person contact involving the exchange of bodily fluids, primarily semen and blood.
It's easily transmitted through casual contact.
It's uncommon in heterosexual relationships
Fewer partners
Safe sex

Health Effects
About 1/2 of adults in the U.S. drink

negative emotions such as tension, worry, anxiety, and depression are dulled, and inhibitions may be loosed.
Drinking is encouraged in our culture

Hangover, OD, Drunk Driving (leading cause of death-young adults)
38% of fire fatalities, 49% of drownings, 63% of fatal falls

Alcohol Dependence (Alcoholism): a chronic, progressive disorder marked by a growing compulsion to drink and impaired control over drinking that eventually interferes with health and social behavior.
increase risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke; oral, stomach, pancreatic colon, and rectal cancer; cirrhosis of the liver, malnutrition, pregnancy complications, brain damage, and neurological disorders; psychotic states, characterized by delirium, disorientation, and hallucination.
Why do they do it?
Short Term Risks
Long Term Health Effects
Over 20% of ideal body weight
BMI 30+
Responsible for 250,000 death/yr in North America
Increased Risk: heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory problems, gallbladder disease, stroke, arthritis, some cancers, muscle and joint pain, and back problems.
Heredity--Genetic predisposition
Excessive eating and inadequate exercise
Set point theory: proposes that the body monitors fat-cell levels to keep them (and weight) fairly stable.
Settling point theory: proposes that weight tends to drift around the level at which the constellation of factors that determine food consumption and energy expenditures achieve an equilibrium.
Nutrition and Health--Connections
1. Heavy consumptions of food that elevate serum cholesterol levels (eggs, cheeses, butter, shellfish, sausage) increases risk of cardiovascular disease
2. Vulnerability to cardiovascular disease may be influenced by other dietary factors: low fiber increases risk of coronary disease. Red/processed meat, sweets, potatoes, refined grains increases cardiovascular risk. Omega 3 fatty acids protect against coronary disease.
3. High salt intake contributes to hypertension
4. High caffeine intake increases hypertension and coronary disease
5. high fat diets contribute to cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and breast cancer. High fiber diets reduce risk for breast cancer, colon cancer, and diabetes.
The Decision to Seek Treatment
Those high in anxiety/Neuroticism & those who are extremely attentive to bodily sensations and health concerns tend to report more symptoms of illness than others.
Higher socioeconomic groups report having fewer symptoms and better health, but when sickness occurs, members of these groups are more likely to seek medical care than lower-income people are.
The process:
1. people have to decide that their physical sensations are symptoms--that they are indicative of illness
2. they ahve to decide that their apparent illness warrents medical attention.
3. They have to go to the trouble to make the actual arrangements for medical care, which can be complicated and time consuming.
The Sick Role
Some people are eager to seek medical care.
60% of patients' visits to their primary care physicians appear to have little medical basis
It absolves people from responsibility for their incapacity and can be used to exempt them from many of their normal duties and obligations.
Sick people may also find themselves receiving lots of attention from friends/relatives.
Communicating with Health Providers
Medical visits are brief, allowing little time for discussion
Illness and pain are subjective and difficult to describe
Doctors use medical jargon & overestimate patient's understanding
Some providers are uncomfortable being questions and discourage patient's information seeking
Patients may be evasive about real concerns, fearing deeper illness.
Patients may be reluctant to challenge Dr. authority
Adherence to Medical Advice
Factors influencing adherence:
1. Patients forget/fail to understand instructions
2. How difficult treatments are
3. Negative attitude toward physicians
4. Treatment adherence is improved with follow ups

Weiten, W., Dunn, D., & Hammer, E. (2012). Psychology applied to modern life: Adjustment in the 21st century (10th ed.) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Heart Disease accounts for 27% of deaths/yr in U.S.
Coronary heart disease--reduced blood flow through coronary arteries, which supply heart with blood.
Atherosclerosis--gradual narrowing of arteries
Myocardial ischemia--heart temporarily deprived of blood flow.
Angina--brief chest pain
Myocardial infarction--full heart attack
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