Biologists explain stress as a negative feeling you experience when your body does not appropriately respond to a threat. Psychosocial stress refers to a specific type you experience that originates from any type of interaction with people. Stress may manifest itself in many different ways, such as high blood pressure, sweating, rapid heart beat, dizziness and feelings of irritability or sadness. Causes of psychological stress, called psychological stressors, can be classified as chronic or acute.
Acute Present Stressors
Psychosocial stress can be caused by upsetting events that happened to you recently. Examples of these current stressful instances include a recent natural disaster, such as an earthquake or hurricane in your area, or a sudden health problem in yourself or someone you love. The National Institutes of Health state that if you come down with a terrible illness or a loved one dies in an accident, acute psychosocial stress can occur. Monumental events such as a pregnancy, breakup or divorce can also induce serious psychosocial stress.
Acute Past Stressors
While current upsetting events certainly place stress on you, events from your past can also still affect you throughout your life. The Initiative Exposure Biology Program published an article in 2006 titled "Field-Deployable Tools for Quantifying Exposures to Psychosocial Stress" that illustrates the importance of screening people about events in their lifetime that could have had a stressful impact on them, such as child abuse, bullying, violence, or trauma like a war or earthquake.
Often, psychosocial stress is not caused by single events, but by ongoing problems. The Modified Life Events Section of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Interview, used by doctors since 1977, is a series of questions designed to assess people's experiences and feelings. It asks about circumstances that could cause ongoing stress, such as war, discrimination, violence, illness or poverty. It also includes family problems, such as caring for a an ailing parent or disabled child, as chronic psychosocial stressors.
Is This an Emergency?
- Field-Deployable Tools for Quantifying Exposures to Psychosocial Stress and to Addictive Substances for Studies of Health and Disease
- Modified Life Events sections of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Interview (PERI-M ); National Institutes of Mental Health; Hirschfield, R. M. A., Lerman, G. L., Schless, A. P., Endicott, J., Lichtenstaeder, S. & Clayton, P. J.; 1977