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4 Tutorials that teach Health Psychology
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Health Psychology

Health Psychology

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

This lesson will define health psychology and discuss how behavior can affect one's health.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This lesson will cover the study of the brain-body connection by examining:

  1. Brain-Body Connection
  2. Health Psychology

1. Brain-body connection

The connection between the brain and the body can be especially important to understand because each can affect the other in turn. The brain can cause bodily disorders, and the body's reactions can lead to mental disorders. A lot of mental disorders have underlying physical symptoms that can often accompany them. They are reoccurring symptoms which point to important causes or effects in the mental disorder process.

A good example is what we call stress-induced illness where anxiety can cause people to become sick more often and more easily. This is because stress can reduce the body's own immune system effectiveness and reduce a person's ability to fight off sickness.

Term to Know

    • Stress-Induced Illness
    • Where anxiety can cause people to become sick more often and more easily.

An important part of living a healthy life is what we call wellness. Wellness is a positive state of mental and physical well being. A person is not only disease free, but also feels good about themselves. This idea of wellness comes from an area of psychology called positive psychology, which is a part of the humanist view of psychology. The humanist theory is related to people like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.

Terms to Know

    • Positive Psychology
    • An area of humanist psychology that focuses on human strengths, virtues, and optimal behavior.
    • Wellness
    • A positive state of mental and physical well-being.

This theory moves away from the more negative aspects of human thoughts and behaviors that might be apparent in other theories, like psychodynamic or behaviorist theories, and instead focuses on human strengths and virtues in light of optimal behavior for people.

ExampleThings like creativity or happiness in people is an area of study for positive psychology.

Focusing on these kinds of things not only improves a person's mental health, which is necessary for a good life for a person, but also improves their physical health, because of this brain-body connection.


2. Health Psychology

An area of psychology that studies this brain-body connection is called health psychology. This is an area that studies the relationship between behavior and health, and it uses psychological principles to promote health and to prevent illness. This area focuses particularly on how behavior and what we can do can affect our health.

Term to Know

    • Health Psychology
    • Studies the relationship between behavior and health and uses psychological principles to promote health and prevent illness.

Today one of the major causes of death in the United States is lifestyle diseases. Lifestyle diseases are diseases or problems that relate to the way that a person lives and the choices that he or she makes.

ExampleThis can include people having certain kinds of jobs like high stress positions, engaging in high stress hobbies like base jumping or extreme sports, and unhealthy or maladaptive habits that people form, like smoking or having sexual relations with many different partners.

Term to Know

    • Lifestyle Diseases
    • Diseases and problems related to the way a person lives and the choices he or she makes.

People that make these sorts of choices in their lives are more likely to develop diseases or injuries, and have a shorter life span as a result of this. These kinds of things are called behavioral risk factors, which are any behaviors or actions that a person takes that increase the chance of injury, illness, or premature death.

ExampleBehavioral risk factors can include things like taking drugs, which can physically harm you, or eating badly, which can lead to obesity. It also includes specific choices that a person makes as well, like driving dangerously, or being very aggressive and getting into lots of fights.

On the other hand, there can also be health promoting behaviors, which can prolong your life and make illness or injury less likely to occur. These are things like eating well, exercising, and getting out regularly. Social interactions with friends and family can actually very be very healthy for an individual and reduce stress and anxiety within a person’s life.

Behavioral medicine is a related psychological and medical field that studies how behavior can affect the treatment of illnesses, disorders, and problems. This is the problem-solving section related to those behavioral risk factors, especially in regards to mental disorders.

The goal of these fields in behavioral medicine and positive psychology are two fold. First, these kinds of fields want to prevent diseases by discouraging behavioral risk factors and by finding ways to reduce stress, anxiety, or any physical problems that can contribute to mental disorders. The second goal of all of these fields is to promote healthy behaviors. That means encouraging people to do things like eat well and exercise, encouraging them to be social and outgoing, and encouraging them to do things that lead to increased happiness.

Summary

The brain-body connection is the link between your mind and body and how they affect each other. The brain can make the body sick, and the body can make the brain sick. One example is a stress-induced illness. Wellness is an important part of living a healthy life, and is an overall feeling of well being. Health psychology is the branch of psychology that studies this connection.

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia Author Erick Taggart

Terms to Know
Health Psychology

Studies the relationship between behavior and health and uses psychological principles to promote health and prevent illness.

Lifestyle Diseases

Diseases and problems related to the way a person lives and the choices he or she makes.

Positive Psychology

An area of humanist psychology that focuses on human strengths, virtues, and optimal behavior.

Stress-Induced Illness

Where anxiety can cause people to become sick more often and more easily.

Wellness

A positive state of mental and physical well-being.