Health psychology deals with comprehending the way biology, behavior, and social contexts affect health and illness. Psychologists who study how biological, behavioral, and social factors affect health and illness are known as health psychologists. Fresh advances in psychological, medical, and physiological studies have led to a new way of thinking about health and disease. This school of thought , labeled the bio-psychosocial model, looks at health and illness as the product of a blend of factors which includes biological traits (e.g., genetic predisposition), social setting ( influences of culture, relations with family, support of the society), and behavior (e.g., health beliefs, stress, lifestyle). Psychologists who study the influence of social factors, biological factors, behavioral, and social factors on health and illness are known as health psychologists.
Health psychologists aim at indentifying behaviors and experiences that are healthy, cause illness, and control the efficiency of health care. They also propose ways of improving health care and health-care policy. To promote health and prevent illness health psychologists also develop ways of overcoming addictions. They study the relationship between illness and individual traits. Contextual factors, such as social, economic, lifestyle, cultural, and society, factors that influence health are also a concern to health psychologists. Health psychologists seek to transform health behaviors for the twin intention of promoting people’s health and aiding patients stick to disease treatment regimens. Through advocating for behavioral change, they seek to promote health.
Health psychologists probe how disease affects psychological health of an individual. An injured or ill person has to deal with various diverse practical stressors. These stressors may cause depression, lowered self-esteem, etc. Health psychology also strives to make the lives of people with terminal sickness better. By assisting the sick to regain at least a part of their psychological health, health psychologist assists in improving the quality of life of their patients.
Psychological and Psycho-Physiological Concepts in Health Psychology
Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. By understanding humanity, that is, through discovering the universal principles and studying specific cases, its aims at benefiting the society. A professional practitioner in this field is known as a psychologist. Psychology, as a field of study, endeavors to understand the role played by mental functions in individual and also social behavior. It also explores the neurobiological and physiological processes that cause some functions and behaviors. Psychology investigates concepts like cognation, attention perception, phenomenology motivation, personality, emotion, behavior, interpersonal relationships, and brain functioning. Depth psychologists, even consider the unconscious mind. This psychological knowledge is in general was practical to the evaluation and management of mental health problems. Among other applications, the knowledge is also applied to understanding and solving problems in physiological health.
The area of psychology that studies the relationship between physiological and psychological processes is referred to as Psychophysiology. Psycho-physiologists almost always concern themselves with the study the psychological and physiological tie in humans. Psycho-physiologists study the impact of psychological states on physiological system responses. Additionally, they study the impact of physiological states and systems on psychological system responses. Psychophysiology is the study of the mind body interface. Psychophysiology is strongly connected to the area of Neuroscience and Social neuroscience (mainly concerned with associations between psychological events and brain responses). Psychophysiology is also associated to psychosomatics. A person’ psychosocial surroundings is a key basis, directly or indirectly, in how they feel physically, or how they pull through an illness. The question of what causes each other between stress and depression is also an area of inquisition for psycho-physiology. Is depression caused by stress or is it in itself a stressor. Investigating which is the main cause of the other is difficult because each can be products of the other. Stress comes in various forms. Depression causes stress, anxiety, and also life events can result into stress. Conversely, stress can also set off a major depressive disorder.
Performance of the mind and body in regulating moods and fighting physical fatigue
The immune system and the brain constantly signal each other and often using the same paths. This may explain how state of mind influences the body state (health). The psycho-social condition of someone might have a direct consequence on their immune system. For example, nervous tension, otherwise known as stress, has diverse effects on the endocrine systems. These include flight activation. Stress is the body’s way of dealing or preparing to deal with perceived stressors. Stress includes the physiological reflexes that make the body ready for fight or flight. These reflexes are among others; amplified nervous system stimulation, adrenaline release into the bloodstream, blood flow changes to various body parts etc. Stress, however, is not one and the same with anxiety or arousal. Stress at times does not involve the consciousness of the person to the threat, but the stressor must be seen or thought at some point to be the cause of stress. The level of stress that is felt is dependent on the individual’s judgment of the stressor, even if that judgment is wrong.
To be in a good emotional health, one needs to be conscious of their feelings, behaviors and thoughts. One needs to have cultured healthy means of coping with the stress since it is usual to have stress. One needs to have a positive attitude and be in a good relationship with others. Our mind needs to perform consciously to regulate our moods so that the body can be in good health. A positive attitude correlates with an improved capacity of the immune system in combating diseases. When our bodies are weary, our brain and nerve systems that control our body automatically lose the agility, causing the movements and decisions we make slower. They apply the brake to save our bodies from overtax. Once the brakes are applied we take a rest or sleep to cure physical fatigue. If we choose to pay no heed to weariness and carry on working, the fatigue is pilled and become chronic. If this becomes serious, it causes mental fatigue. This reduces immunity in addition to physical exhaustion and might set off a range of diseases.
Mood does have an effect even in comparatively less precarious health conditions. Individuals with happy emotions showed an increased ability to fight the common cold when given a rhinovirus shoot (Jones, 2003). It is not only the mind that influences the body wellbeing. Body and mind perform together to regulate our moods and fight physical fatigue, and influence stress and healing. Bodily imbalances also affect our moods, influence stress and mental fatigue and healing. Body systems that affect mood and brain function are among them immune system, gut, hormones, de-tox system, energy system, nutritional status, etc. For example observable signs of magnesium deficiency include stress and anxiety, palpitations, severe muscle cramps and eye twitches. One can influence brain power to calm down the mind and get healing. By addressing the root of the magnesium-deficiency, for example, and then fix it by detoxification, and supplementing with magnesium, will help one reset the nervous system.
The wellbeing of the body, therefore, is not an isolated from the state of the mind of an individual. They two aspects of the human being work together for each other wellbeing. Stress levels influences the physical condition of an individual through having a direct association with the immune system, or through influencing how the individual takes care of himself or herself. It is obvious that immunity and a person’s mind are interconnected. What is complex to explain is the underlying association. What causes what? Is it stress that causes depression, which leads the immune system to malfunction since resources are being used in activating the fight or light mechanism? Or is it that depression leads to stress, which then causes fight or flight. Or is it the psychological state that makes the individual to impinge on their health by bad nutritional, physical and sleep patterns.
People diagnosed with cancer risk having a significant changes of lifestyle due to their condition. They could develop bad eating habits as a result of nauseating feelings which initially were not related directly to their conditions and treatment. They could be having irregular sleep patterns like early waking up or insomnia. Developing drug problems is also frequent. These factors all seem to introduce further stresses which have an effect on the physiological effects. To target these stresses will have positive results on individuals’ health. A study completed with physical activity helped get rid of the bad physical habits and mitigated the depression and gave the patient an optimistic attitude (Anderson, Glaser, & Kiecolt-Glaser, 1994).
Lastly, factors such as the social environment also play a major role in immune functioning. A person with an effective social circle will show to effectively escalate the abilities of the immune. This social support is also seen to cause a positive response to the cardiovascular system. It also aids in the regulation of blood pressure thus minimizing the risk of heart or heart related diseases.