Psychological effects of stress
Psychological effects of Stress
Stress is defined as the physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another; strain. Psychological research has proven that stress actually sets into motion a series of chemical reactions in the body which lead to the physical and the emotional reactions that we normally attribute with stress. When human beings are put in a seemingly crisis situation, there is an imbalance in the nervous system between the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), commonly called the fight or flight response and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which causes relaxation. When the situation passes normally some of the hormones remain active. They remain active in the brain for too long – injuring and even killing cells in the hippocampus, the area of your brain needed for memory and learning (http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/stress.html). This is exactly why a conscious effort is commonly required to regain normalcy.
In order to realize why human beings feel stress we can refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The most important are the physiological needs, Maslow explains: "It is quite true that man lives by bread alone - when there is no bread.” (A.H. Maslow, A Theory of Human Motivation, Psychological Review 50 (1943):370-96). Secondly , there are the safety needs followed by social needs of love and belonging and then esteem needs subsequently. Finally when all needs are realized we reach self-actualization. However, often these needs are not met and as a result human beings stress for example we get stressful when we feel hungry. For first year college students the stress triggers from both the needs of safety and esteem. First of all the eventual goal of graduation is to ensure safety of employment and resources, additionally, the notion of achievement is also attached to it. Hence, throughout the college life stress is prevalent amongst college students.
However, this stress is exemplified in first year college students as they are experiencing something quite new and the amount of stress in college is something that they have not been exposed to before. In the interview conducted with renowned clinical psychologist Mr Haider Abbas Rizvi, chairman of Karachi University Psychology Department, he exclaimed that psychology has convincingly proved that there is a constant call for help from people under stress and it leads to depression and its worst forms it can lead to suicide due to hopelessness. Depression is one of the psychological effects of stress; the other effects include psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and especially affective disorders, behavioral changes and weakening of the natural immune system according to him. He said there is a need of a social support system in order to combat stress amongst students. This assertion was also augmented by research findings. In 2002 Anila Amber Malik carried out a research in which she studied 60 students at the Karachi University and in her conclusion she said, “it was found that there is a significant relationship between social support and known measures of loneliness” (Anila Amber Malik, The study of social support as a determining factor in depressed and non depressed as measured by an indigenously developed social support scale,Department of Psychology University of Karachi 2002)
There are different ways in which these psychological effects can take place for example “chronic psychological stress, such as dealing with a terminal illness in the self of or a loved one, has been shown to reduce immune effectiveness” (http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/beaton.html). According to Dr Haider Abbas Rizvi, the effectiveness of therapy shows that the immune system is adversely affected by stress and those effects can be combated by therapy. He encourages people to consult psychiatrics and psychologists, especially students since they are still in the process of development. Furthermore, psychological consultation should be provided in all leading universities to ensure the effects of stress are minimized; he gives Karachi University as an example of such an initiative. However, upon further research it was seen that the findings of the immune system are not conclusive. No one really knows for sure why the immune system acts weak when one thinks it should function strongly. The evolutionary perspective is the strongest view on the market. It claims that the immune system is suppressed during periods of stress to serve as a protective function in the evolution of our species. The belief is that it helps prevent people from developing autoimmune diseases (Carson, Butcher, & Mineka, 2002).
In conclusion, stress could cause depression, hopelessness, psychiatric disorders, behavioral changes and the weakening of the immune system. These effects are not all inclusive but these are the ones that most commonly effect people. The effects are exemplified in first year college students due to the effects of a new experience and the constant struggle to fulfill their social and esteem needs. Students in Universities and colleges should be provided with psychological consultation and social support to help combat stress and reduce the psychological effects caused by stress and hence minimize the possibilities of psychiatric disorders and suicides.
Tags: Psychology , Stress
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