Jean M. Brice-Montas, Department of Psychology at: Argosy University.
Jean M. Brice-Montas is recently graduated at Department of Psychology at, Argosy University.
This Literature Review was supported in part by Argosy University Library, Proquest
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Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed Directly to Jean M. Montas, Department of Psychology at, Argosy University; 2233 W Dunlap Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85021.
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This paper is an exploration of ten different articles published by experimenters on the results found on the effects of stress on human’s brain, behavior and memory (cognition). Stress has always been considered to have seriously affects health condition, but not everyone known its severity level. Stress has serious impact on different parts of human body and can greatly affect people’s health condition. In fact, the American Psychological Association found stress can affect both parents and children behavior, it can also derail their relationship as well. Each articles expose a different type of effect stress has on human’s mind and body. August ET al. (2007) suggests that life stress and negative social exchanges can cause serious emotional distress, however, their severities vary by situation and the way people behave in those situations. While the other articles show that both acute and chronic stress have some other serious effects on behavior and memory, and can stimulate life threatening disease such as heart disease, diabetic, and cardiovascular complication. As a result those experimenters provide different results and solutions in their discoveries. This paper observes the works of ten different experimenters; Harris, August, Bluhm, Dohrenwend, Head, Kradin, Lupien, Roberts, Sarah, and Sawmi. After observing all studies, our conclusion is that more research needs to be done in order to show how serious stress is and offers ways to reverse those effects.
Keywords: Stress effects on brain behavior cognition, life stress, negative social exchanges, and relationships.
What are the effects of stress on human’s health, behavior and cognition?
Whenever an individual find himself/herself in a life threatening or a stressful situation, whether it is a minor or a major life event, the human brain is equipped to quickly respond to that situation automatically. In the world of psychology, this quick reaction is known as “fight or flight” (Argosy University, 2013). The fight or flight response is a survival response that can help human and other creatures to fight for survival when they at risk. However, this quick reaction engaged by the brain can have some serious impacts on people’s health condition, behavioral and memory. Numerous studies have been conducted on that matter in order to deepen the true effects stress has on various parts on human body; physically and psychologically. This literature review investigates the results found by those researchers on that matter.
Stress effects on Health:
Most of those researchers agreed on the fact that stress is vital part of human progression. In fact, the human body was designed to experience stress at some level and quickly react to it when it occurs. Life stressful events are being categorized in two parts; the acute stress is categorized as the stage one of stress before it escalates to a more serious situation that can cause diseases and mental illnesses. Chronic stress is compared to stage two in stressful events. This is when people are exposed to stressful situation for too a very long time without any relief such as relaxation, this can have serious negative impact on their health and mental condition, their behavior; and triggers drug and alcohol addiction.
The American Psychological Association (2012) has surveyed questionnaire many participants of different age group, parents and nonparents in order to figure out how serious stress has affected their lives. Results show that, despite affecting people’s behavior stress can also cause serious health problems and mental illnesses especially when it is being mishandle; which is the case for many parents, children and families around the country. In fact, stress has been suggested as one of the reasons that families are being destroyed. Most teenagers report that due to stress they get less attention from their parents, and as a result they look for attention elsewhere which in fact get them in trouble some times. The only issue with this result is that, no other experimental results were used to compare the finding as a way to support and make the result very authentic. When dealing with telephone questionnaire survey it is very hard to tell how truthful people are and if who they say they are, are exactly what they are.
Other than mental illnesses and life threatening diseases, stress can also deteriorate the body weight as well, in fact, Roberts’s et al. (2009) experiment where 71 women were observed for a few weeks. Results show that after that period of observation, some of those participants gained weight, while others lost weight during the process. For those who gained weight they have reported that they did not have any control over their body gaining weight. This experiment clearly shows that stress does not have the same effects on everyone. The argument is that some people’s body is very weak and as a result that body quickly gains weight while going to stressful situation, but for other individuals; they become slimmer while under stress. The results of that experiment and many other experiments that stress effects BMI and can also cause certain diseases such as obesity, diabetic, cancer, cardio vascular diseases.
According to Sarah et al. (2010), chronic cells stress can provoke drastic changes in the chromatin landscape that control cells in the abnormal states, which very often can cause diseases. Chronic stress can also affect the renewal cell system negatively and cause its deficiency, cellular dysfunction; in some cases the loss of cells. The results of this study are that acute stress causes injury to progenitor and stem cells that can cause diseases such as cancer and cardio vascular diseases. Chronic stress can also cause epigenetic changes as well. The experiment has not explained if chronic stress has the same impact on both genders and if it is the same for all age group. Correlation; stress triggers mental illnesses and some other types of diseases (August, Robert, Sarah, 2010).
Life Stress and Negative Social Exchanges on Emotional Distress
Social exchange is very important for an individual who is experiencing stress, but sometimes instead of helping it can cause a lot more issues. In fact, August ET al. (2007) has conducted an experimental research where 916 participants interviewed after being selected through a random sampling method. The experimenter examine linear and nonlinear for three categories of stressful life experiences: relationship losses, disruptive events, and functional impairment. The curiosity behind August’s experiment was to figure out whether stress has negative impacts on people’s behavior or not, and if it does, to what level.
The results show that there is a connection between early life stressful events and negative social exchanges, and can cause emotional distress, heart diseases and cardio vascular complications. The research findings also suggest that both early life stress events and negative social exchanges do not have the same impact on everyone, some people are more resistant that others to those effects. In other words; the severity of those complications varies by human system vulnerability and the types of stressful event that occur (August et al., 2007). Other researchers found results that travel in the same direction with August’s experiments and suggest other than emotional distress, negative exchanges and stressful situation can cause PTSD (Argosy University, 2013).
Relationship between early life events and posttraumatic stress
Bluhm and Lupien have both suggested that early life events have serious impact on individuals throughout the life span and can lead to mental illnesses such as PTSD. In fact, Lupien suggest that those stressful early life events can definitely trigger other similar events in people’s lives, and can make life experience a very stressful journey to those individuals.
Lupien et al. (2009) show that during the period of prenatal, infancy, adolescent, adulthood to late adulthood; stress has serious negative effects on various parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety, and the central nucleus of the Amygdala (Lupien et al., 2009). Furthermore, the results show that exposure to stress has three major effects on people, such as learning impairments, increase anxiety and depression level; and drug addiction (Lupien et al., 2009).
On the other hand, Bluhm experiment results show that the default network locates on the brain area that shows correlated low frequency activity at rest and that have been suggested to be involved in the processing of self-relevant stimuli. In his study, Bluhm made the choice of female samples that are in their middle age from three different institutions to do the experiment.The samples were divided into two categories; those with posttraumatic stress disorder and without posttraumatic stress disorder in order to see the difference in low frequency blood oxygen level dependent functional connectivity of the default network while at rest.
The finding is that the connectivity within the default network at rest is impaired in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder. Both Bluhm and Lupien’s observation result shows that stressful childhood life events can trigger other stressful events in adulthood, which can result to serious mental illnesses such as posttraumatic stress disorder and some other complicated stress related diseases. However, there are no other research findings that suggest the result found by both Bluhm and Lupien are accurate. Many authors agree on the fact that early life stressful event can trigger other similar events, however; stress causing posttraumatic stress disorder need to be explored a lot more before making a conclusion, because other articles results found that posttraumatic stress disorders can also be cause by other factors such as, genetics and war experiences ( Argosy University, Dorehnwend and Bruce P. 2010).
Stress effects on behavior:
Other than mental illnesses and other types of diseases that experimenters on those ten articles agreed on, they also agreed that stress has serious impact on people’s behavior from mood change to a lot more serious behavioral problems. D