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Psychological interventions to reduce stress

  1. Human behavior is the resultant effect of a number of factors that encompass a wide variety of issues concerning the physical and emotional aspect that define and drive the interactions in case of humans corroborating with the biological, social and intellectual virtues. There are many societal factors that affect the status of a person’s level of both health and fitness. Health is the state of freedom from disease and well being that is perceived by a person. Fitness can be seen as the relative ability of an individual or population to survive and reproduce in a given environment. The effects of a culture and the types of food consumed and climate that an individual lives in affect health and longevity. Biological factors for human health behaviors and human illness are attributed to genetic complexities. They are the natural process of the body, like growth and development, aging, and genetic composition. The prime factors of human biology are vitally responsible for health of an individual. The determinants that underpin the influence upon human behavior constitutes attitude, perception, culture, genetics, societal norms, ethics prevalent in a society in addition to influence of other factors related to religious lineage, coalition as well as impacts exerted by the concerned authority. In this regard social factors play a crucial role that is indicative of the attitude depicted by the relevant persons within a social setting. Further by biological factor it is meant for anything that influences both the function as well as behavior of a living organism that may be of physical, chemical, neurological, physiological or genetic by nature that account for complex interactions among the associated variables (Zentall and Galef 2013).
  2. According to the given case study, Ms. X is suffering from mental health conditions since quite a long time that have significantly thwarted her daily living. She has been diagnosed with depression that has its onset in the year in which her son was born. She has been affected by depression for a bulk amount of her life; however the degree of depression intensified following the birth of her son. This signifies that depression is a genetic condition for the patient. With the passage of time and with the diagnosis of quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy in her son her distress level accentuated to bring him up and to meet the basic requirements of life as well. Moreover her sleep patterns has also been found to be erratic that dates back to the time since the birth of her son. She also experiences chronic nightmares pertaining to rape and violence that add to the distress already present in her life. Thus, overall Ms. X may be stated to be a patient of mental health diagnosed with depression. The feelings of severe despondency and dejection emanate as a consequence of depression that in turn affect the mood of the individual thereby altering the perceptions, thoughts and activities of daily living.
  3. As per the case study, the mental health condition of Ms. X underwent a sharp transition or change following the birth of her son when she was left with no other options but to bring up her child single handedly being a single mother. The biological factors impacted her mental health status in a significant manner involving the interaction among various components that are mutually interrelated. Post pregnancy depression may be cited as a possible cause that include the major changes the physiological and endocrine functioning of the body due to interplay of the various hormones and other biological chemicals and neurotransmitters. The brain structure of amygdala and the limbic system along with neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and non-epinephrine are responsible for the chemical alteration that leads to depression. Besides these genetics might also be a possible factor as behavior seem to be affected by various genes, environment or combination of both (Vandenberg 2013). Although there is no history of depression in the family but as per the belief of Ms. X, some of her family members might have depressions that went undiagnosed and unreported.
  4. Careful following of Ms. X’s medical history brings to the forefront the vital issue relevant to the biological factors that has had major influence on her mental health. Genetics might have contributed majorly in predisposing Ms. X to encounter. In this regard the underlying mechanisms that account for the interrelationship among the hereditary and environmental factors play a pivotal role to influence the onset of mental illness. Genes do not directly exert their control on behaviors but facilitate the responsiveness to certain situations attributed to the possession of specific traits. Further stress generation in Ms. X might also account for the onset of depression in her during which the cognitive functioning gets compromised because of affect in the differentiated cortical areas and associated neural connections in the brain that in turn impacts human behavior drastically. Emotional stress often emanates from circumstances that account for long term memory potentiation thereby triggering the effect upon human behavior. Actions involving the amygdala structure of the brain drive these changes pertaining to emotion through negative emotional experiences. This may be corroborated with Ms. X when the various adverse life events have ultimately culminated in the onset of mental health disorder associated with depression in her (Barr 2015).
  5. The social factors influencing the mental health of Ms. X in the case study may be attributed to the lack of social support from near relatives and family in conjunction with lack of cooperation from the friends and peers (Turner and Brown 2010). It has been mentioned in the case study that her father was declared redundant from job while mother was suffering from physical disability that further added to contribute distress of Ms. X in performing her liabilities. Further the condition of her quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy son has contributed to the agony and pain to carry out her everyday living.  Further strained family dynamic since her childhood along with the burden of rearing the child independently without any sort of support from the child’s biological father who denounced his duty blatantly are other social factors affecting the behavior mental health in case of Ms. X. As stated in the case study, constant pressure from family in achieving good grades in professional courses further deteriorated her mental health and compelled her to leave her own home during her college days and thereafter prompted her to put up in her friend’s house. Gender biasness aggravating depression has been the most crucial factor effecting Mrs. X. Thus all these factors might have contributed to the worsening of her mental health. Unstable family dynamics often lead to a reduced mental well being (Carlson 2013).
  6. X’s present mental health condition associated with depression is the resultant outcomes of a number of interacting factors that in turn affect the mental health status of her. The straining nature of household pattern since childhood in case of Ms. X has severely impacted her emotional upbringing (Grzywacz and Bass 2003). She felt dejected and deprived under the shadow of her elder sister. Further the failure to perceive her goals of life by her parents and constant pressure to score high in her professional career. On the whole societal norms and peer pressure burdened her mental health status during her growing years. Moreover during the vital phase of her at the time of her pregnancy she faced traumatic experiences that she battled out all alone. Again in bringing up her child she faced immense challenges as the biological father of the child refused to take up any responsibility. Liabilities of single parenting along with gender differentiation due to the increased prevalence of depression among the women also accounted for the adverse mental health (Travis 2014). In fine, adverse early life experiences supported by job insecurity because of unemployment contributed to the mental agony for Ms. X. The cumulative effects of all these experiences manifested later in life in the form of depression that caused decline in her mental health status (Satcher and Shim 2013).
  1. Social role comprises of a set of associated behaviors, rights, beliefs, norms and obligations that are generally conceived by an individual and utilized in a social setting to conform to the set standards that characterize a society. Acquisition of a social status or social position through modifications in behavior accounts for the social roles exerted by a person in accomplishing a task successfully (Ramanathan, Yao and Fei-Fei 2013). A socially recognized and acceptable, comprehensive pattern of behavior that has the capability of placing an individual into the realm of social structure. The responses exhibited by a person as a result of being in a social environment are generally considered as the social role and adaptability to such situation is considered crucial in this respect. This concept of social role is widely used by the anthropologists, political philosophers, sociologists and social psychologists and is found to be in congruity with the social values, ideals and beliefs. The different social roles can be that of a mother, care giver, parent and employee.
  2. X was actively engaged in performing her social duties with utmost care and to the best of her ability. She had to serve the social roles of being an employee, a single parent, a mother, and care giver to a disabled child. Since the birth of her only child, with some special needs she left no stones unturned to bring him up in an appropriate manner as far as practicable and possible from her end. She has been intimately associated with the early intervention team in Enable Ireland working under the jurisdiction of Cavan area. Following the rejection from the biological father of the child who declined to take up any sort of responsibility of the child and Ms. X, she was bound to bring up the child single handedly and in doing so she rejoined her job at the Dunnes stores where lack of cooperation from the store manager made it all the more cumbersome for her to carry out her service properly. She hardly got chance to look after her child and eventually she resigned from her job. Therefore in order to cater to the special needs of her son, she chose to become a stay at home mother and her association with the Enable Ireland was further strengthened. She further continued with her efforts to provide optimum care for her son and in doing so ended up in moving in the council house right before the second birthday of her son. This in turn ensured her with the much needed security which she was seeking and eventually paved the way for her to purchase a car thereby helping her to carry out with a stable living. She further enrolled herself to a computer class located in the local resource centre. Simultaneously she delved into further education and earned distinctions in the field of childcare/special needs. She grabbed the opportunity of serving as a preschool special needs assistant when approached by the Enable Ireland team and successfully completed her term for 4 years. At later times she became a special needs assistant at a local school and invested in longer duration in her job that rendered her the freedom thereby allowing her to get better acquainted with the world outside. Hence, analyzing the social role of Ms. X it may be stated that she performed the dual responsibilities of mother as well as career, hence resulting in earning of a social recognition being a special care teacher.
  3. The social roles as performed by Ms. X may be analyzed under the light of various psychological theories. First of all Ms. X was under tremendous pressure and mental anxiety in bringing up her child in need of special care. She received minimal support from her family and friends with the passage of time that prompted her to look for financial security and explore options to earn her livelihood. Lack of support from the biological father of the child who denied taking up any sort of responsibility further worsened her situation as she was left with no other options but to bring up her child all alone. Single parenthood is associated with higher levels of depression as there is more pressure to cope up with the demands of the social role one plays. Major depression is significant as the single parent has to fulfill the responsibilities single-handedly, failure to which gives rise to reduced self-esteem and confidence. X’s mental health condition was never in sync with other during her growing up years due to strained family dynamics. She has been stated to be quite shy as a child and used to coil in her own shell without much social interaction. Early motherhood further deteriorated her condition as she had to withstand all the pain, responsibility all alone thereby resulting in depression. As time progressed her liabilities towards her special child increased that put her in extreme distress as again she did not receive quality support and cooperation from her near and dear ones. She got little time to spend with her son thereby resulting in compromising on the provision of care for him due to increased work pressure (Hsin and Felfe 2014). Circumstances posed negative impacts on her thereby adding to her agony and pain and causing her mental health status to decline. Hence the self and identity factors that has often been associated to culminate in the generation of stress responses among the concerned persons in a differential way may be attributed as the possible cause for the present mental health condition (Thoits 2013).
  4. Psychology has laid immense emphasis upon the possibility of social roles that might act as both stressors as well as protective factors depending upon the situations that ensue. The social roles are often found to get compromised when adequate supports are not received from the concerned persons or authorities in charge (Maslach and Jackson 2013). In case of Ms. X, she was primarily entrusted and under the obligation of taking special care of her son with special needs. Parents suffer exhaustion, loneliness and stress while caring for disabled children. It is common for them to undergo periods of sadness and other difficulties. Emotional turmoil and depression is often suffered. Parents of children having special needs are faced with a permanent flow of challenges from financial strain, outright exhaustion, societal isolation, burn out and difficulty in finding resources (Panksepp et al. 2014). In bringing him up, she resorted to taking up a job of a special need assistant at a local school and that took up a bulk timing of her. The work load and caring for her son concomitantly increased thereby accounting for increased burden and accentuating her level of depression. She felt very depressed, angry and hopeless at the same time that affected the relationship with her son to a large extent as she expressed extreme fatigue, exhaustion, irritability and anxiousness. She was under the perception of underperforming and not meeting up to her work in their highest attainable standards. Further declaring redundant from her job influenced her mental health severely and she ended up sleeping all day, not eating properly, not bathing and basically lost interest to do anything. On further employment as a special needs assistant she struggles to constantly juggle between maintaining her routine and taking care of her son. This affected her workplace scenario adversely as she constantly resulted in being late and taking sick leaves too often. Hence her mental health status affected her social liabilities in a significant manner.
  1. Stress has become an everyday word in modern times affecting people of all ages, genders and socio-economic backgrounds. Stress is a global health concern nowadays as it may culminate into adverse physical as well as mental health issues. According to Baum (1990) stress may be defined as any uncomfortable “emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioral changes.” In certain cases stress may be beneficial and generally referred to as ‘eustress’ or good stress which may help an individual to meet his/her work deadlines and get through situations like examinations or sports matches by means of enhanced performance level and heightened motivation. Contrarily, excessive amount of stress may pose harm to normal health conditions causing impaired functioning of the bodily systems such as immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems and may be called as ‘distress’ or bad stress (Anderson 1998). Broadly emotional stress may be categorized into acute stress, episodic acute stress and chronic stress each having its own distinctive features, symptoms and duration. The level of stress may be attributed to the type of stressor triggering the stress response and may be internal or external or both.
  2. X is experiencing both short term as well as long term stressors in her life associated with various life events. In her growing years, Ms. X has explained her concern and discontent being overshadowed by her own twin elder sister that somehow stressed her out snatching her from what she deserves. Among other short term stressors in her life, the decision to leave home and settle at a friend’s house at the tender age of 18 years act as a stress generating event. Further the pressure from the parents t achieve good grades I examination without arranging for sufficient provision to do so affected her vastly. Working as a checkout employee at a store to meet up her living during the college days also acted as short term stressor. However, getting pregnant at the age of 20 years and having the liability to perform her duties as a mother without adequate support from family and friends served as a major life changing event for her that in turn lead to the generation of long term stress. The battle to bring her son who required special care and needs all alone without sufficient cooperation received from her employer authority further worsened her condition due to piling up of stress. Sudden redundancy from her job facilitated this stress response thereby causing temporary or short term stress. Thus all these long term and short term stressors accounted for building up of stress in her life that affected her mental health adversely.  
  3. X’s elevated stress levels may be attributed to various psychological factors that triggered such responses in her. Among these, the issue pertaining to major life event of being a mother at the age of only 20 years seems to be a major contributor as teenage pregnancy often negatively affects the mental health of a person to a large extent. Depression as present in case of Ms. X has been an outcome in such persons (Corcoran 2016). Further lack of social support increased the level of stress in her life where she was left with no other feasible alternative but to fight out her own battle of survival along with her disabled son who required special needs and support to sustain his living. A positive impact of social support has been found to harbor beneficial outcomes in terms of mental health (Cheng et al. 2014). However the situation was just the opposite in case of Ms. X where her own family and friends did not extend their necessary support towards her. Moreover the dearth of appraisal from her previous employment after she rejoined her job in post maternity leave days caused for raising the stress responses in her life.
  4. Effective coping strategies to manage stress may provide respite from the problems in case of Ms. X. The key to effective stress management comprise of a holistic approach with an overall positive outlook towards life. For acute stress certain lifestyle modifications may be necessary while in case of episodic and chronic stress behavioral therapy along with exercise based lifestyle interventions might ameliorate the symptoms and help in dealing with the stressful situations. In order to successfully manage stress in one’s life several techniques and strategies have been suggested by experts and psychological counselors. These advices may be followed in one’s everyday life to lead a better, productive and healthy life. Effective stress reducing practices may include:
  • Regular exercise habits
  • Regular performance of meditation
  • Music therapy through listening
  • Maintenance of a healthy diet
  • Cultivation of supportive, social relationships
  • Adequate, proper sleep
  • Consultation with a psychological counselor or psychiatrist for cure
  • Combinatorial approach of behavioral therapy with some short-term as well as long-term stress relievers. 

Hence these strategies coupled with psychological interventions might aid to reduce stress levels in Ms. X (Folkman 2013).   

  1. The multiple psychological theories described till date have tried to explain the association of depression with various factors that underpin it. Pathogenesis of depression seems to emanate from interaction between physiologic, neural, molecular and genomic mechanisms that in turn may be linked with experiences of social-environmental stress as well as internal biological process. In this regard social regard and interpersonal stress has been identified as vital factors for depression being major life stressors. Referring to this context, the behaviorist theory, the psychodynamic theory and Beck’s theory may be cited as important in elucidating the complex phenomenon of depression (Slavich and Irwin 2014). Hence the understanding of depression may be carried out under the light of these theories considering the various aspects that lead to the formation of depression in a progressive manner.
  2. X’s depression seems to have its root since her childhood days especially during her growing years when she encountered several challenges that thwarted her life activities in an unprecedented manner. Later in life the traumatic experience of having to rear a specially able child all alone added to her agony. Deprivation and lack of social support further drive the onset of depression in Ms. X. Hence, in this regard the behaviorist theory may be applicable for the sake of better understanding the depression phenomenon. According to the proposition of this theory environment plays a crucial role in shaping the behavior relevant to a person. The several behavioral learning processes such as operant conditioning, classical conditioning and social learning theory affect the behavioral orientation in a person. An individual’s interaction with the environment therefore results in the generation of depressive symptoms in the concerned person and this may be corroborated to the instance of Ms. X as well where many of the environmental and social influences contributed to the generation of depression like condition (Kendall and Hollon 2013).
  3. The Behaviorist theory states that learning is acquired by virtue of conditioning that drives for distinct behavioral outcomes in the concerned person. Interaction and interplay among the various environmental factors trigger the onset of a specific behavioral outcome that steer crucial changes in a person’s life. Depression is one such behavioral outcome due to association among the various interacting factors. The responses to these diversified environmental stimuli shape the course of actions in the individuals that vary depending upon the circumstances. The clearly identifiable cause of depression may be well correlated with this behaviorist theory where reactive depression is the ultimate outcome. However endogenous depression as well as cognitive influences on mood is not taken into consideration in this theory. The various principles of learning thus act to explain the complex response of depression in the concerned individuals referring to the environmental circumstances that appear. Hence in case of Ms. X this theory may be effectively utilized in an effort to explain the onset of depression due to possible interaction among the various associated variables. The lack of social support, traumatic life experiences, dearth of control over oneself along with heavy workload at workplace as well as inability to cope up with the ensuing pressure and maintain a harmony between workplace and private life  lead to the generation of depression in case of Ms. X. The huge liability of bringing up the spastic cerebral palsy son completely by herself further added to the onset of depressive symptoms in her. Hence the behaviorist theory aids in best understanding of the depression condition in case of Ms. X (Panksepp et al. 2014).


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