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Preventing Illness

     Stress and personality play an important part in illness and preventing illness. Some personality factors make people more susceptible to illness. Individual personality factors interact with the environment and create what is known as STRESS. Stress therefore affects people in ways that affect their health.

Stress Responses:

     The present of stresses in the environment do not create stress alone. How an individual perceives the stressor is important as well. The way that they perceive it determines how they will respond to it, and it is this response that is important in health. When you feel challenged you need to adapt to this feeling - and often this involves getting away from the challenge (flight) or facing and dealing with the challenge (fight). There are three stages involved when someone recognizes a stressor and attempts to adapt to it. These are:

1) Alarm: This stage consists of the body becoming aroused, and the nervous system releasing certain hormones such as adrenaline in order to deal with the stress. Heart rate and respiration rise, and the digestive tract activity stops in order to make more blood available to other organs. These function all occur unconsciously and automatically.

2) Resistance: Because the alarm stage uses up a lot of the bodies resources. The resistance stage decreases the intensity of the bodies stress responses; however they will not go all the way back to normal if the stressor continues.

3) Exhaustion: Eventually, all of the bodies' reserves of energy are used up. This causes the ability of the body to restore damaged or worn-out tissues and to resist infections (due to a weakened immune system) to decrease. Therefore, stress has been linked to a large number of infectious diseases - such as chicken pox. Not only stress, but the anticipation of stress can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system.

Related Links

Health Psychology
Nutrition & Exercise
Personality & Health
Healing & Pain
Chronic Illness
Recognizing & Interpreting Symptoms