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[stress!] relax, take it easy

CasedOutCasedOut Registered User
edited April 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
Stress is common today in many people's lives. Have our lives grown more stressful or have we grown less able to deal with stress? Or is the amount of stress the same as its always been?

In my pyschology class my teacher asked us this question, "Do you believe individuals in the United States experience more stress than individuals in other countries?"

To my surprise most everyone in the classroom said that yes indeed Americans experience more stress. Perhaps, I am wrong, but I feel like stress in many other countries if not most other countries is much higher than in America. Take many of the asian countries for example, china, japan, and south korea are a few that come to mind. They live in extremely high pressure societies with tons and tons of stress and also have much higher suicide rates than America. Many of the suicides are stress related.

Many other countries come to mind, including most of Africa, much of the middle east, much of eastern europe and Russia, and much of latin America.

What do you guys think? Is America more stressed out as a whole than most other countries?

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CasedOut on

Posts

  • TracerBulletTracerBullet Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    Stress is common today in many people's lives. Have our lives grown more stressful or have we grown less able to deal with stress? Or is the amount of stress the same as its always been?

    In my pyschology class my teacher asked us this question, "Do you believe individuals in the United States experience more stress than individuals in other countries?"

    To my surprise most everyone in the classroom said that yes indeed Americans experience more stress. Perhaps, I am wrong, but I feel like stress in many other countries if not most other countries is much higher than in America. Take many of the asian countries for example, china, japan, and south korea are a few that come to mind. They live in extremely high pressure societies with tons and tons of stress and also have much higher suicide rates than America. Many of the suicides are stress related.

    Many other countries come to mind, including most of Africa, much of the middle east, much of eastern europe and Russia, and much of latin America.

    What do you guys think? Is America more stressed out as a whole than most other countries?


    Well, I think stress is really subjective. Yes, by OUR standards, life in the certain other areas may see unduly stressful, but would they really be if you had grown up in a society that enforced such laws? Or had such expectations?

    I personally don't think we as American's lead lives anymore stressful than people in other countries, but I think stress is really subjective, stress is something that affects you because it's outside of your norm. Some people feel a lot of stress when they have a deadline coming up, or when they feel like said deadline is too soon, because it makes them work at a pace they aren't use to, hence stress.

    Right now, I'm sure life in the middle east(in certain countries) and in Africa(in...well... a lot more countries) is more stressful, because they are dealing with things outside of their norms that are life threatening.

    TracerBullet on
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  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    You can see examples of actual high stress environs in America, in the ghettos. Flat affect and heightened stress hormone levels are near universal in ghettos. Not so much among "stressed" out workers.

    But really, just exercise a bit and eat well and maybe have sex and you'll feel a lot better

    Robman on
  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I was watching a documentary on China. Given how overpopulated they are, getting into a regular university in China is harder than getting into Harvard in the USA. Kids are raised with very harsh educational standards, and any time not spent studying is spent perfecting some kind of hobby such as music or sports. If you're not the best, you're almost guaranteed not to get into university, not to get an education, and not to have a good career. If you're not the best, you might as well be last.

    Now that's stress. Compared to that, Americans have it easy.

    Richy on
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  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User
    edited April 2010
    It's a fairly popular assertion that a contributing factor to many mental illnesses - particularly depression - is the heightened level of mental stress required to operate in modern society - as opposed to a few hundred years ago when you might have much worse quality of life, but you weren't required to maintain such mental exertion. I'm sure I can dig up some papers tomorrow when it's not so late at night.

    I don't know why someone would point to America as being a more stressful environment than other countries, though. Your job and school culture aren't nearly as demanding as those of certain other countries. Certainly I'd think of Japan or South Korea first.

    Aroused Bull on
  • Protein ShakesProtein Shakes __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2010
    I don't know why someone would point to America as being a more stressful environment than other countries, though. Your job and school culture aren't nearly as demanding as those of certain other countries. Certainly I'd think of Japan or South Korea first.

    That is true, Starcraft tournaments can get pretty stressful.

    Protein Shakes on
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Well, if my mom met the following criteria... I'd be in favor if waterboarding her.
  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Don't despair. Not even over the fact that you don't despair.Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    As far as I can tell the main problem with stress is that our bodies aren't able to tell the difference between a life and death situation and your significant other screaming at you for leaving the toilet seat up/down. Your responds in the same way, by flooding your system with adrenalin, increasing your heartrate, and generally working very hard. This is quite taxing - our bodies weren't 'designed' with this kind of constant stress in mind, and this process isn't good for our overall health.

    If your job is stressful you could undergo several hours of this situation a day, or as robman pointed out if you're in a warzone or ghetto the stress of waiting for a bullet to enter your house.

    Casual Eddy on
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  • Protein ShakesProtein Shakes __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2010
    As far as I can tell the main problem with stress is that our bodies aren't able to tell the difference between a life and death situation and your significant other screaming at you for leaving the toilet seat up/down. Your responds in the same way, by flooding your system with adrenalin, increasing your heartrate, and generally working very hard. This is quite taxing - our bodies weren't 'designed' with this kind of constant stress in mind, and this process isn't good for our overall health.

    Uh, except adrenalin isn't just for life and death situations. Excitement/nervousness in general can stimulate the adrenal gland, and it's silly to assert that our ancestors didn't experience those feelings except when running away from sabertooth tigers.

    Protein Shakes on
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Well, if my mom met the following criteria... I'd be in favor if waterboarding her.
  • CasedOutCasedOut Registered User
    edited April 2010
    It's a fairly popular assertion that a contributing factor to many mental illnesses - particularly depression - is the heightened level of mental stress required to operate in modern society - as opposed to a few hundred years ago when you might have much worse quality of life, but you weren't required to maintain such mental exertion. I'm sure I can dig up some papers tomorrow when it's not so late at night.

    I don't know why someone would point to America as being a more stressful environment than other countries, though. Your job and school culture aren't nearly as demanding as those of certain other countries. Certainly I'd think of Japan or South Korea first.

    Why do you think it is that modern society creates more stress than an older society with a worse quality of life?

    edit: assuming that is in fact the case

    CasedOut on
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  • Protein ShakesProtein Shakes __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    It's a fairly popular assertion that a contributing factor to many mental illnesses - particularly depression - is the heightened level of mental stress required to operate in modern society - as opposed to a few hundred years ago when you might have much worse quality of life, but you weren't required to maintain such mental exertion. I'm sure I can dig up some papers tomorrow when it's not so late at night.

    I don't know why someone would point to America as being a more stressful environment than other countries, though. Your job and school culture aren't nearly as demanding as those of certain other countries. Certainly I'd think of Japan or South Korea first.

    Why do you think it is that modern society creates more stress than an older society with a worse quality of life?

    TPS reports man, TPS reports!

    Protein Shakes on
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Well, if my mom met the following criteria... I'd be in favor if waterboarding her.
  • CasedOutCasedOut Registered User
    edited April 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    It's a fairly popular assertion that a contributing factor to many mental illnesses - particularly depression - is the heightened level of mental stress required to operate in modern society - as opposed to a few hundred years ago when you might have much worse quality of life, but you weren't required to maintain such mental exertion. I'm sure I can dig up some papers tomorrow when it's not so late at night.

    I don't know why someone would point to America as being a more stressful environment than other countries, though. Your job and school culture aren't nearly as demanding as those of certain other countries. Certainly I'd think of Japan or South Korea first.

    Why do you think it is that modern society creates more stress than an older society with a worse quality of life?

    TPS reports man, TPS reports!

    I must not have got the memo.

    CasedOut on
    452773-1.png
  • CauldCauld Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I think the US is more stressed than most other places. Sure Japan and Korea, and to some extent some other countries are more stressful, but I would say most of Europe is less stressful and to a large extent even many of the 'poorer' countries have less stress.

    I spent a year living in Thailand and once the initial stress of learning what was expected from my job wore off I experienced almost no stress at all for most of the year. It was extremely liberating. I would say many of the people there exhibit different stresses.

    It's always stressful to have to worry about basic necessities, but its also less stressful when the society as a whole doesn't put as much emphasis on timliness and emphasizes happiness over material gain.

    Edit: Especially teens in the US. We expect much more out of our teenages than it seems almost anyone else does. Less as far as studying goes, but way way more as far as personal responsibilities.

    Cauld on
  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User
    edited April 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    It's a fairly popular assertion that a contributing factor to many mental illnesses - particularly depression - is the heightened level of mental stress required to operate in modern society - as opposed to a few hundred years ago when you might have much worse quality of life, but you weren't required to maintain such mental exertion. I'm sure I can dig up some papers tomorrow when it's not so late at night.

    I don't know why someone would point to America as being a more stressful environment than other countries, though. Your job and school culture aren't nearly as demanding as those of certain other countries. Certainly I'd think of Japan or South Korea first.

    Why do you think it is that modern society creates more stress than an older society with a worse quality of life?

    edit: assuming that is in fact the case

    I'm not fully prepared to stand behind that claim, but the idea is that modern jobs require a much greater amount of mental busywork, as opposed to repetitive tasks or backbreaking labour, and at a less frenetic pace. The decreased quality of life wouldn't have too much of an effect on stress levels, since people tend to measure their quality of life based on those around them. Plus very little class mobility, so less to aspire to.

    Aroused Bull on
  • GreasyKidsStuffGreasyKidsStuff MOMMM! ROAST BEEF WANTS TO KISS GIRLS ON THE TITTIES!Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I finished my last exam for my first year of university, bought Pokemon HeartGold, and now have the rest of the summer to look forward to. My stress level went from REALLY HIGH to NOTHING.

    GreasyKidsStuff on
  • CasedOutCasedOut Registered User
    edited April 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    It's a fairly popular assertion that a contributing factor to many mental illnesses - particularly depression - is the heightened level of mental stress required to operate in modern society - as opposed to a few hundred years ago when you might have much worse quality of life, but you weren't required to maintain such mental exertion. I'm sure I can dig up some papers tomorrow when it's not so late at night.

    I don't know why someone would point to America as being a more stressful environment than other countries, though. Your job and school culture aren't nearly as demanding as those of certain other countries. Certainly I'd think of Japan or South Korea first.

    Why do you think it is that modern society creates more stress than an older society with a worse quality of life?

    edit: assuming that is in fact the case

    I'm not fully prepared to stand behind that claim, but the idea is that modern jobs require a much greater amount of mental busywork, as opposed to repetitive tasks or backbreaking labour, and at a less frenetic pace. The decreased quality of life wouldn't have too much of an effect on stress levels, since people tend to measure their quality of life based on those around them. Plus very little class mobility, so less to aspire to.

    This does seem to somewhat fit with the "keeping up with the joneses" mentality.

    CasedOut on
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  • CasedOutCasedOut Registered User
    edited April 2010
    MH79 wrote: »
    I finished my last exam for my first year of university, bought Pokemon HeartGold, and now have the rest of the summer to look forward to. My stress level went from REALLY HIGH to NOTHING.

    Man my stress level would be through the roof if I was you. YOU JUST GOTTA CATCH EM ALL!!!!!

    CasedOut on
    452773-1.png
  • GreasyKidsStuffGreasyKidsStuff MOMMM! ROAST BEEF WANTS TO KISS GIRLS ON THE TITTIES!Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    CasedOut wrote: »
    MH79 wrote: »
    I finished my last exam for my first year of university, bought Pokemon HeartGold, and now have the rest of the summer to look forward to. My stress level went from REALLY HIGH to NOTHING.

    Man my stress level would be through the roof if I was you. YOU JUST GOTTA CATCH EM ALL!!!!!

    Funny you say that, because Pokemon may be the most I've ever thought about a game while not playing it. Planning my teams... figuring out movesets... it is kinda stressful D: Okay so I'll take that back, my stress level went from REALLY HIGH to COMFORTABLE

    GreasyKidsStuff on
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    As far as I can tell the main problem with stress is that our bodies aren't able to tell the difference between a life and death situation and your significant other screaming at you for leaving the toilet seat up/down. Your responds in the same way, by flooding your system with adrenalin, increasing your heartrate, and generally working very hard. This is quite taxing - our bodies weren't 'designed' with this kind of constant stress in mind, and this process isn't good for our overall health.

    Uh, except adrenalin isn't just for life and death situations. Excitement/nervousness in general can stimulate the adrenal gland, and it's silly to assert that our ancestors didn't experience those feelings except when running away from sabertooth tigers.

    All arousal is the same.
    The physiological response to all emotion is identical.
    Extremes of emotion: Horror, fear, excitement, extreme joy, all will stimulate the adrenal gland because all trigger the same physiological arousal.

    This doesn't mean it's a biological adaption for emotion. It's more likely that this is just a sideeffect of the identical arousal that wasn't weeded out via evolutionary processes because it wasn't something that can adversely affect procreation.

    And it can't really affect continuing the species now. Stress isn't something that really messes with you until you get older because it's a build up of constant damage over time. By the time it really affects you, most people would have had kids.

    It sure can affect an individual though! And from an individual point of view, yes it is damaging because too much adrenaline is toxic. That's why your adrenal gland can't release too much. There's an automatic stopgap to prevent more than a little bit getting out at a time, hence why you get a surge. If you had a malfunctioning adrenal gland that constantly produced it at a much higher rate, your body would very quickly deteriorate.

    Normally, stresses like this weren't as big of a deal because we had fitter bodies because of our way of life, which meant better capability of flushing out the adrenaline.
    Nowadays we have highly sedentary lifestyles with pretty inefficient bodies but our stress levels and hence constant adrenaline levels are unchanged/have gone up.

    If anyone is worried about stress affecting them: exercise.

    Morninglord on
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  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I think, at least personally, the whole 24hr connected cultured can be pretty goddamn stressful. The proliferation of portable e-mail and the like can kind of feel like a pretty big weight at times. I wouldn't go so far as to say the benefits don't outweigh the costs, but shit it can be a pain.

    Also,

    firewaterword on
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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    The work culture in America is terrible, made worse by the down economy. No one can leave their asshole bosses because they have no place to go.
    Gaaaar!!!!

    Improvolone on
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  • Aroused BullAroused Bull Registered User
    edited April 2010
    I think, at least personally, the whole 24hr connected cultured can be pretty goddamn stressful. The proliferation of portable e-mail and the like can kind of feel like a pretty big weight at times. I wouldn't go so far as to say the benefits don't outweigh the costs, but shit it can be a pain.

    What specifically? I seem to have avoided unnecessary communication pretty well.

    Aroused Bull on
  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I think, at least personally, the whole 24hr connected cultured can be pretty goddamn stressful. The proliferation of portable e-mail and the like can kind of feel like a pretty big weight at times. I wouldn't go so far as to say the benefits don't outweigh the costs, but shit it can be a pain.

    What specifically? I seem to have avoided unnecessary communication pretty well.
    More or less the feeling of being expected to be reachable at any time. I mean, I certainly won't say it's foisted upon me completely without my consent, and it comes with the territory. I work in the legal industry, and a lot of people therein don't really see a workday as having solid boundaries.

    But again, it's a choice, you know. If they can't reach me, they'll find someone, and I don't want that.

    firewaterword on
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  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    As far as I can tell the main problem with stress is that our bodies aren't able to tell the difference between a life and death situation and your significant other screaming at you for leaving the toilet seat up/down. Your responds in the same way, by flooding your system with adrenalin, increasing your heartrate, and generally working very hard. This is quite taxing - our bodies weren't 'designed' with this kind of constant stress in mind, and this process isn't good for our overall health.

    Uh, except adrenalin isn't just for life and death situations. Excitement/nervousness in general can stimulate the adrenal gland, and it's silly to assert that our ancestors didn't experience those feelings except when running away from sabertooth tigers.

    All arousal is the same.
    The physiological response to all emotion is identical.
    Extremes of emotion: Horror, fear, excitement, extreme joy, all will stimulate the adrenal gland because all trigger the same physiological arousal.

    This doesn't mean it's a biological adaption for emotion. It's more likely that this is just a sideeffect of the identical arousal that wasn't weeded out via evolutionary processes because it wasn't something that can adversely affect procreation.

    You're basically correct, but oversimplifying things a bit too much in my opinion. A bunch of hormones are released in response to neurological and chemical stress signals, many of which play a role outside of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal neuroendocrine axis. The adrenal glands themselves are a bit more complex than the binary "on/off" devices you seem to suggest. You can stimulate the adrenal glands and adrenal cortices in several different ways and receive different responses in terms of chatecolamine and corticosteroid release. "Stress" isn't a specific physiological state or process, but rather a category of physiological states.

    The primary hormonal responses to stress are thought to be well understood, as are the long term consequences of prolonged stress, although there's some disagreement between neurologists/neuropsychologists and endocrinologists as to the significance of the nervous system versus hormones. A lot of research is still needed to figure out all the causalities between primary stress response and its downstream effects.

    About evolution and adaptation: the "fight or flight" response is certainly a survival mechanism that, on the average, improved an individual's chances of survival and procreation. There are feedback loops in place that normally render this reaction temporary; people and animals get used to things. Animals that escape a predator can recover from the stress almost immediately after the predator is gone, for example. Being under constant stress (in terms of physiological response) is certainly not a normal state for any species. But there are at least two ways in which this "dampening" can fail. A constant barrage, or a wide variety, of stimuli can make it impossible to get adapted to a particular source of stress; or you can enter a vicious circle where the psychological and physiological consequences of stress trigger even worse stress. Most vertebrates grow exhausted and unhealthy under such prolonged stress, sometimes very rapidly.

    Bliss 101 on
    MSL59.jpg
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    As far as I can tell the main problem with stress is that our bodies aren't able to tell the difference between a life and death situation and your significant other screaming at you for leaving the toilet seat up/down. Your responds in the same way, by flooding your system with adrenalin, increasing your heartrate, and generally working very hard. This is quite taxing - our bodies weren't 'designed' with this kind of constant stress in mind, and this process isn't good for our overall health.

    Uh, except adrenalin isn't just for life and death situations. Excitement/nervousness in general can stimulate the adrenal gland, and it's silly to assert that our ancestors didn't experience those feelings except when running away from sabertooth tigers.

    All arousal is the same.
    The physiological response to all emotion is identical.
    Extremes of emotion: Horror, fear, excitement, extreme joy, all will stimulate the adrenal gland because all trigger the same physiological arousal.

    This doesn't mean it's a biological adaption for emotion. It's more likely that this is just a sideeffect of the identical arousal that wasn't weeded out via evolutionary processes because it wasn't something that can adversely affect procreation.

    You're basically correct, but oversimplifying things a bit too much in my opinion. A bunch of hormones are released in response to neurological and chemical stress signals, many of which play a role outside of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal neuroendocrine axis. The adrenal glands themselves are a bit more complex than the binary "on/off" devices you seem to suggest. You can stimulate the adrenal glands and adrenal cortices in several different ways and receive different responses in terms of chatecolamine and corticosteroid release. "Stress" isn't a specific physiological state or process, but rather a category of physiological states.

    The primary hormonal responses to stress are thought to be well understood, as are the long term consequences of prolonged stress, although there's some disagreement between neurologists/neuropsychologists and endocrinologists as to the significance of the nervous system versus hormones. A lot of research is still needed to figure out all the causalities between primary stress response and its downstream effects.

    About evolution and adaptation: the "fight or flight" response is certainly a survival mechanism that, on the average, improved an individual's chances of survival and procreation. There are feedback loops in place that normally render this reaction temporary; people and animals get used to things. Animals that escape a predator can recover from the stress almost immediately after the predator is gone, for example. Being under constant stress (in terms of physiological response) is certainly not a normal state for any species. But there are at least two ways in which this "dampening" can fail. A constant barrage, or a wide variety, of stimuli can make it impossible to get adapted to a particular source of stress; or you can enter a vicious circle where the psychological and physiological consequences of stress trigger even worse stress. Most vertebrates grow exhausted and unhealthy under such prolonged stress, sometimes very rapidly.

    I tend to keep things simple unless it's really important for people to know the details. In my experience unless it's critical to the argument, the details just make peoples eyes glaze over.
    My point was just that calling upon evolution isn't a good counter point so I outlined some basic reasons why.

    I'm not arguing against you or anything. You know more details than I do certainly, I don't specialise in neuroscience. I found your clarification very interesting.

    Morninglord on
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) (WiiU: Morninglord22) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
  • Cyrus106Cyrus106 Registered User
    edited April 2010
    I think it really is a long-term build-up of bullshit. It took me about 3 years of getting into yelling contests with my dad over silly things, and highschool, before stress actually hit hard. I try to ignore it, but it's hard not to, ya know?

    Cyrus106 on
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