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      Ten Surprising Facts About Stressful Life Events and Disease Risk

      1 , 1 , 2

      Annual Review of Psychology

      Annual Reviews

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          Abstract

          After over 70 years of research on the association between stressful life events and health, it is generally accepted that we have a good understanding of the role of stressors in disease risk. In this review, we highlight that knowledge but also emphasize misunderstandings and weaknesses in this literature with the hope of triggering further theoretical and empirical development. We organize this review in a somewhat provocative manner, with each section focusing on an important issue in the literature where we feel that there has been some misunderstanding of the evidence and its implications. Issues that we address include the definition of a stressful event, characteristics of diseases that are impacted by events, differences in the effects of chronic and acute events, the cumulative effects of events, differences in events across the life course, differences in events for men and women, resilience to events, and methodological challenges in the literature.

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          Most cited references 67

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          Cognition and depression: current status and future directions.

          Cognitive theories of depression posit that people's thoughts, inferences, attitudes, and interpretations, and the way in which they attend to and recall information, can increase their risk for depression. Three mechanisms have been implicated in the relation between biased cognitive processing and the dysregulation of emotion in depression: inhibitory processes and deficits in working memory, ruminative responses to negative mood states and negative life events, and the inability to use positive and rewarding stimuli to regulate negative mood. In this review, we present a contemporary characterization of depressive cognition and discuss how different cognitive processes are related not only to each other, but also to emotion dysregulation, the hallmark feature of depression. We conclude that depression is characterized by increased elaboration of negative information, by difficulties disengaging from negative material, and by deficits in cognitive control when processing negative information. We discuss treatment implications of these conclusions and argue that the study of cognitive aspects of depression must be broadened by investigating neural and genetic factors that are related to cognitive dysfunction in this disorder. Such integrative investigations should help us gain a more comprehensive understanding of how cognitive and biological factors interact to affect the onset, maintenance, and course of depression.
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            The Epidemiology of Social Stress

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              Psychological stress and cardiovascular disease.

              There is an enormous amount of literature on psychological stress and cardiovascular disease. This report reviews conceptual issues in defining stress and then explores the ramifications of stress in terms of the effects of acute versus long-term stressors on cardiac functioning. Examples of acute stressor studies are discussed in terms of disasters (earthquakes) and in the context of experimental stress physiology studies, which offer a more detailed perspective on underlying physiology. Studies of chronic stressors are discussed in terms of job stress, marital unhappiness, and burden of caregiving. From all of these studies there are extensive data concerning stressors' contributions to diverse pathophysiological changes including sudden death, myocardial infarction, myocardial ischemia, and wall motion abnormalities, as well as to alterations in cardiac regulation as indexed by changes in sympathetic nervous system activity and hemostasis. Although stressors trigger events, it is less clear that stress "causes" the events. There is nonetheless overwhelming evidence both for the deleterious effects of stress on the heart and for the fact that vulnerability and resilience factors play a role in amplifying or dampening those effects. Numerous approaches are available for stress management that can decrease patients' suffering and enhance their quality of life.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Psychology
                Annu. Rev. Psychol.
                Annual Reviews
                0066-4308
                1545-2085
                January 04 2019
                January 04 2019
                : 70
                : 1
                : 577-597
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA;,
                [2 ]Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, California 94118, USA;
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-psych-010418-102857
                © 2019

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