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Disorder relate of

Chanxin Liu


(1) (5)

Sympathetic Adrenal Adrenal Pituitary

Nervous (3) (6)
Medulla Cortex Gland
(4) (7)
Neural impulses Stress hormones carried
activate various glands via blood stream to
and smooth muscles relevant organs and muscles

Fight-or-flight Response
 A stressful situation activates the
hypothalamus, which, in turn, controls two
neuroendocrine systems:
 The sympathetic system
 The adrenal-cortical system
Fight-or-flight Response
 The sympathetic nervous system (SNS),
responding to neural impulses from the
hypothalamus (1),
 activates various organs and smooth
muscles under its control (2).
 SNS also signals the adrenal medulla (3) to

release epinephrines and norepinephrine into

the bloodstream (4)
Fight-or-flight Response
 The adrenal-cortical system is activated when the
hypothalamus secretes CRF, a chemical that acts
on the pituitary gland lying just below the
hypothalamus (5)
 The pituitary gland, in turn, secretes the hormone
ACTH, which is carried via the bloodstream to the
adrenal cortex (6), where it stimulates the release of
a group of hormones, including cortisol, that
regulate blood glucose levels (7).
Fight-or-flight Response
 ACTH also signals the other endocrine
glands to release some 30 hormones.
 The combined effect of the various stress
hormones carried via the bloodstream plus
the neural activity of the sympathetic division
of the autonomic nervous system constitute
the fight-or-flight response
Stress and Disease
 Direct effects of stress on health
 Chronic overarousal (e.g. Coronary heart disease)
 The immune system
Diathesis-stress Paradigm
 Diathesis refers most precisely to a
constitutional predisposition toward illness
 But the term may be extended to any
characteristic or set of characteristics of a
person that increases his or her chance of
developing a disorder.
 Possessing the diathesis for a disorder
increases a person’s risk of developing it but
does not by any means guarantee that a
disorder will develop
Diathesis-stress Paradigm
 Both diathesis and stress are necessary in
the development of disorders
 The psychopathology is unlikely to result
from the impact of any single factor, e.g.
childhood experiences, coping strategies,
culture influences, etc
High High diathesis Low diathesis
(individual X) (individual Y)


Low High
Level of stress
(a) An individual with a large dose of the diathesis requires only a moderate amount
of stress to develop psychopathology, whereas an individual with a small dose of the
diathesis requires a large amount of stress to precipitate a breakdown


Low Absent

Low High
Level of stress
(b) The diathesis is dichotomous; stress level has no effect on those without the
High loading


(low to

Minimal loading

Low Absent

Low High
Level of stress
(c) The diathesis is continuous; increasing stress increases psychopathology for all
people with at least a minimal amount of the diathesis
Somatic-weakness theory
 Genetic factors, prior illnesses, diet, and the
like may disrupt a particular organ system,
which may then become weak and vulnerable
to stress
 E.g. a congenitally weak respiratory system
might predispose the individual to asthma
Specific-reaction theory
 Each person has his own patterns of
automatic response to stress
 The bodily system that is the most
responsive becomes a likely candidate for
the locus of a locus of a subsequent psycho-
physiological disorder
 E.g. someone reacting to stress with elevated
blood pressure may be more susceptible to
essential hypertension