Psychological Models of Stress


There are various models of stress that are continually studied by psychologists around the world. The two most common models are the psychosomatic stress model and the diathesis stress model.


Psychosomatic stress is the type of stress where the connection between mind and body is strengthened. Specifically speaking, you either develop a disease or further worsen it with your current mental state.

As an example, take two persons who are stressed with the appearance of psoriasis on their bodies. Since each person has a different take on the situation, the one that feels more stressed about the condition tends to have more physical suffering. With psychosomatic stress, your mind greatly affects how your body will cope with the physical disease that you have.


The diathesis-stress model deals with the relationship between the possible causes of a condition and the degree of your vulnerability to react to the situation. Basically, this model shows that different people are vulnerable in different degrees and this affects their likelihood to develop depression.

These vulnerabilities are called diatheses. Your diatheses can include biological and psychological factors. However, having these vulnerabilities is not enough to trigger an illness. Instead, you have to be faced with a stressful situation to prompt an illness.

This model follows that if you are very vulnerable to develop depression due to stress, then it will only take a little environmental stress for you to become depressed. On the other hand, if you are not so vulnerable, it will take much greater levels of environmental stress to bring you a depressed state.

These are the two models of stress that help explain why different people are affected differently by stress. In the next section, you will learn about the disorders that are brought about by stress.

In addition to illnesses, there are also disorders that can manifest themselves due to stress. Clinical medicine has categorized stress-related disorders into three acute stress disorder, panic anxiety disorder, and post traumatic stress disorders.

You can have acute stress disorder especially when you are undergoing extreme physical or mental stress. The effects of this type of stress may be severe, but it usually goes away in a few hours.

Your vulnerability to stress and how you cope with a stressful situation will determine how often, how long, and how severe you will observe the effects of an acute stress disorder. Its a good indication you have an acute stress disorder if you experience a feeling of daze after a stressful situation. You might also feel disoriented and withdraw from the environment.

On the other hand, you will be able to identify if you have a panic anxiety disorder if you feel palpitations, hyperventilation, and sweating within seconds or minutes after being faced with a stressful stimulus. This type of disorder is milder than the acute stress disorder but can last for about 2 to 3 days.

The most difficult kind of stress disorder you can deal with is the post-traumatic stress disorder. You can only experience post-traumatic stress disorder after responding to a threatening and stressful situation which causes you to be very distressed.

Some stressful events which can cause post-traumatic stress are rape, torture, hostage taking, war, terrorism, or accidents. People who have a post-traumatic stress disorder usually have flashbacks or the reliving of the traumatic situation which numbs and detaches them from other people. Depression is a common symptom associated with this disorder.

Last Updated on November 1, 2022