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Stress and Your Health: From Vulnerability to Resilience

Stress and Your Health: From Vulnerability to Resilience

Hymie Anisman

ISBN: 978-1-118-85033-6

Feb 2015, Wiley-Blackwell

296 pages



Stress and Your Health: From Vulnerability to Resilience presents an evidence-based evaluation of the various effects of stress, along with methods to alleviate distress and stress-related illnesses.

  • Examines myriad stressor effects and proven ways to alleviate stress in our lives
  • Covers a wide range of stressor-related topics including therapeutic strategies to deal with stress and factors that hinder treatment of stress
  • Makes difficult biochemical and immunological concepts accessible to a non-specialist audience
  • Addresses many of the factors that cause individuals to be more vulnerable to the impact of stressors and at increased risk for pathology

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xvi

1 Stressors, Stress, and Distress 1

What this book is about 1

What do we mean when we talk about stressors? 3

The characteristics of stressors: comparing apples, oranges, and lemons 5

Chronic stressors and allostatic overload 10

Before you go… 11

2 Individual Differences in Relation to Stressors and Stress Responses 12

Vulnerability and resilience 13

Genetic influences 13

Age 17

Sex 18

Personality differences in relation to stress responses 18

Previous stressor experiences 19

Stress generation 19

Before you go… 20

3 Appraising Stressful Events 21

Appraising stressors 22

Guidance through primary and secondary appraisals 22

Thinking fast and slow 22

Guideposts and anchors 25

Appraisals based on what others think 27

Appraisals in relation to learning, memory, automaticity, expectation, and habit 28

Positive and negative emotions 30

Gauging stressors 31

Before you go… 33

4 Coping with Stressors 35

First responses to stressors 36

Coping methods 36

Personal growth and finding meaning 38

Social support 40

Loneliness 40

Unsupportive interactions 42

Social rejection 44

Forgiveness and trust 46

Empathy 48

Before you go… 48

5 Hormones and What They Do 50

What’s a hormone? 51

Linking hormones and behaviors 51

The hormonal stress response 54

Hormones of the autonomic nervous system 54

The hypothalamic]pituitary]adrenal (HPA) axis and glucocorticoids 55

What cortisol (corticosterone) does for us 55

The cortisol/corticosterone response to an acute stressor 55

Cortisol variations in humans 56

Yesterday’s stressors influence today’s responses 59

A cacophony of hormones associated with stress, eating and energy regulation: leptin, ghrelin, CRH, and neuropeptide Y 60

Oxytocin and positive responses 62

Estrogen and testosterone 64

Before you go… 67

6 Neurotransmitter Processes and Growth Factors 69

Neuronal and glial processes in relation to challenges 70

Stressors influence neurotransmitter functioning 72

Acetylcholine (ACh) 72

Serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine 75

Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH): beyond the HPA system 76

Glutamate 78

Gamma]aminobutyric acid (GABA) 79

Cannabinoids 79

Neurotrophic factors 80

The past influences the future 82

Before you go… 83

7 Immunological Effects of Stressors 84

A brief look at how the immune system works 85

Cells of the immune system 86

Immune memories 87

Cytokines: messenger molecules of the immune system 88

Immune–hormone interactions 88

Stress, brain processes, and immunological changes 91

Cytokine changes in response to stressors 93

Before you go…. 93

8 Stress across the Life Span 95

Connections over time 96

Prenatal experiences 96

Biological correlates of prenatal stress in humans 98

Consequences of prenatal infection in animals and humans 99

Stress experienced early in life 101

Transitional periods 104

Older age 106

Before you go… 107

9 Cardiovascular Disease 108

Coronary artery disease (CAD) 109

The heart’s response to a challenge 109

Psychosocial factors associated with heart disease 110

The influence of stressors on heart disease 110

Job strain 112

Depressive illness and heart disease 113

Socioeconomic status (SES) 114

Sex]dependent trajectories for heart disease 114

Personality factors and heart disease 115

Type A personality 115

Type D personality 116

Physiological stress responses associated with heart disease 116

Sympathetic nervous system reactivity 116

Inflammatory processes in heart disease 117

Stress, pathogen burden, and heart disease 118

Obesity, cytokines, and heart disease 119

Before you go… 120

10 Diabetes 121

Type 1 diabetes 122

Type 2 diabetes 122

Stressor influences in relation to the development of Type 2 diabetes 123

Immune factors in Type 2 diabetes 126

Genetic contributions 127

Before you go… 127

11 Stress, Immunity, and Disease 128

Immunity and illness 128

Allergies 129

Infectious illness 130

Stressors influence vulnerability and the course of infectious illness 133

Autoimmune disorders 134

Exacerbation of autoimmune disorders by stressful experiences 137

Before you go… 137

12 Stress and Cancer: Cancer and Stress 138

The cancer process 139

The stress–cancer link 141

Implication for cancer treatment 144

Stress stemming from cancer 145

Treating cancer]related distress 147

Before you go… 148

13 Depressive Illnesses and Cognitive Mistakes 149

What is depression? 150

Depressive subtypes 152

Cognitive theories of depressive disorders 153

Helplessness 153

Hopelessness 154

Depression from an evolutionary perspective 156

Depression from a neurochemical vantage 158

Neurobiological explanations of depressive disorders 158

Serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in relation to depressive disorders 159

Gene and environmental interactions 160

Reward processes in depression: dopamine and anhedonia 161

Depression and anxiety: corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) as a player in depression 162

Coordination and discoordination of neuronal process: gamma]aminobutyric acid (GABA) 163

Growth factors and depression 164

Inflammatory processes and depressive disorders 165

Before you go… 169

14 Fretting over Anxiety Disorders 171

A plague of anxiety disorders 172

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) 172

Panic disorder 173

Obsessive]compulsive disorder (OCD) 174

Phobias and social anxiety 177

Before you go… 178

15 Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder 179

Acute stress disorder 180

Posttraumatic stress disorder 180

Vulnerability and resilience 181

Neuroanatomical underpinnings of PTSD 182

Biochemical determinants of PTSD 184

CRH and corticoids in relation to PTSD]related memories 185

Norepinephrine and serotonin and PTSD]related memories 187

GABA and the extinction of fear responses in PTSD 187

Neuropeptide Y (NPY) and resilience 188

Before you go… 188

16 Addictions and Forbidden Fruits 190

What’s an addiction 190

Stress as a provocateur in the addiction process 191

Reward and aversion in relation to addiction: a multistep process 191

Dopamine in relation to stress and reward 192

Corticotropin hormone in relation to stress and addiction 193

Can eating become an addiction? 195

An integrated perspective 195

Treatment for addictions 196

Before you go… 197

17 Coping with Illness, Caregiving, and Loss 199

How might illness come to affect health? 200

Major physical illnesses 201

What patients know and what they need to know 201

Appraising and coping with illness 202

Personal control, decision]making, and trust 203

Social support and unsupportive interactions in the face of illness 204

Mood changes associated with illness 205

Adjustment to chronic illnesses: psychological resilience in the face of illness 206

Stress associated with caregiving 207

Loss and grief 208

Before you go… 209

18 The Workplace for Better or Worse 211

Job]related distress 212

Status and job strain 212

Burnout 212

Absenteeism and presenteeism 212

Bullying in the workplace 213

Social support in the workplace 215

Trust in the workplace 216

Unemployment 216

Time management and juggling 217

Before you go… 218

19 Transmission of Trauma across Generations 220

Traveling across generations 221

Parental stress influences on children 221

Intergenerational effects of trauma: beyond poor parenting 222

Environments modify gene actions 223

The case of epigenetic effects 223

Collective and historic trauma 226

Before you go… 229

20 Stress Reduction through Cognitive and Behavioral Strategies 231

Prelude to dealing with stress 232

Relaxation training 233

Exposure therapy 233

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 234

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) 237

Meditation 237

Mindfulness 238

The default mode network 240

Positive psychotherapy (PPT) 241

Giving and receiving 242

The social cure 243

Before you go… 244

21 Drug Remedies to Attenuate Stress and Stress]Related Disorders 246

Something about drug treatments 247

Placebo and nocebo responses 247

Selecting the right treatment and related caveats 249

Treating depression 250

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 250

A cocktail of acronyms: SNRI, NDRI, NaSSA, MAOI 253

Ketamine 256

Deep brain stimulation 257

Anti]inflammatory agents 258

Treating anxiety disorders 259

Treating PTSD 259

Herbal (naturopathic) treatments 262

Before you go… 266

22 Epilogue 267

It’s OK to go now… 267

References 269

Index 272

“This is a worthwhile read, especially for those wanting to gain a good grounding in the subject of stress.”  (The British Psychological Society, 1 October 2015)