Stress in psychology, and its coping process

What is stress?

The word ‘stress‘ is used in psychology in at least two different ways.
First, it is defined as the state of psychological upset or disequilibrium in human beings caused by frustrations, conflicts and other internal as well as external strains and pressures. What to do and what not to do? How to do it? Where to go? Such questions depict the stage or state of stress under which one is expected to act or behave. In a more serious condition of stress, the individual reaches a point where the physical processes are seriously affected, mental processes are confused, and the emotional state is chaotic.

In the second case, stress is regarded as a class of stimuli that threatened an individual in some way. And thus disturbances in his behavior, in this way stresses are the factors or causes that lead to maladaptation and disorganization of behavior.


  • All situations positive or negative that require adjustment are stressful. Hans Selye(1976)
  • “The state of an organism when he perceives that his wellbeing (or integrity) is endangered and that he must elevate all energies to its protection”. (Cofer and Appley) (1964)
  • “Stress is a process in which environmental demands tax or exceed the adaptive capacity of an organism resulting in psychological and biological changes that may place a person at risk for disease”. (Kessler, and Grdon 1997)

Models Of Stress

Three broad traditions of assessing the role of stress can be distinguished.

  • The environmental tradition focuses on the assessment of that are environmental events or experiences objectively associated with substantial adjustive demands. like: Economic environment, Political environment, and Technology
  • The psychological tradition focuses on the individual’s subjective evaluations of their abilities to cope with the demands posed by specific events or experiences. like: Anxiety, Depression, Mood swing etc.
  • The biological tradition focuses on the activation of specific physiological systems that are modulated by both psychologically and physically demanding conditions. like: Muscular tension, sleeping problem, week immune system etc. 

In dealing with abnormal, the following models are relevant:

1. The Stress coping process

Sarason and Sarason (1996) hold that the stress that in individual experiences in a particular situation is a function of the situation itself the vulnerability of the individual and the coping resources he has.


situation is stressful or not depends on a how Situation whether the individual his ability to deal with it. There are two stages in appraises. During primary appraisal the individual interprets the situation as either threatening or harmless.  During secondary appraisal the individual considers the action that is called for and his resource for coping. the individual may respond in the situation in a variety of ways depending on the extent of coping resources he has.


This term refers to how likely we are to respond maladaptive to contain situations. Conceptually it is similar to diathesis, which is a part of the diathesis-stress model.

Coping Resources

These imply all the personal/social characteristics that the individual may use when he faces stress. E. g. money, social status, intelligence, locus of control. etc.

2. The Diathesis stress model

According to this model abnormal behavior results from an interaction of genetic predisposition or diathesis and stress. Diathesis increases the individual’s vulnerability to develop the disorder in response to stressful life circumstances.

The term diathesis refers most precisely to a constitutional predisposition towards illness but is often extended to any characteristic of a person that increases his/her chance of developing a disorder

For example, a chronic feeling of hopelessness may be considered a diathesis for depression. The diathesis is a relatively distal necessary or contributory cause but it is not sufficient to cause the disorder. Instead, there must be a more proximal cause (the stressor), which may also be contributory or necessary, but is not sufficient by itself to cause the disorder. Both together, however, may cause the disorder.

What are the psychological symptoms of stress?

Some common symptoms are: Lack of confident, Frustration, Lack of concentration, Depression, Mood swing, Constant worrying, Forgetting things, Withdrawing from other etc.

What are the symptoms of stress?

Low self-esteem, Anxiety, Feeling fatigued, Feeling demotivate, Chest pain/ heart palpitations, Feeling anxious, Upset stomach, Trouble in sleeping etc. are some major symptoms in stress.

What are physical symptoms of stress?

exhaustion, Week immune system, Headache, Muscular tension, skin irritations, Sleep problem etc. are some major symptoms of physical stress.

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