Physiological Methods of
Stress Management
Drug Therapies - Benzodiazepines
One example of a physiological method to
help stress management is the use of drug
Some work by slowing down the activity of the
CNS whereas some work by slowing down the
activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline.
An example of a drug is Benzodiazepines
(BZs), which includes Librium and Valium.
These slow down the activity of the CNS.
Drug Therapies - Benzodiazepines
How do they work?
BZ’s enhance the action of GABA.
GABA is a neurotransmitter and the body’s natural form of anxiety
When the neurons in the brain respond to this neurotransmitter, it
has a quietening effect on them.
The neurons do this by reacting with GABA receptors on the
outside of receiving neurons.
The GABA then locks into these receptors and opens a channel
which increases the flow of chloride ions into the neuron.
Chloride ions make it harder for the neuron to be stimulated by
other neurotransmitters and so therefore slows down its activity,
making the person feel more relaxed.
Drug Therapies - Benzodiazepines
How do they work?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has an arousing effect in the
Too much serotonin leads to anxiety, whereas low levels of
serotonin leads to depression.
BZs reduce any increased serotonin activity, and so in turn,
reduces anxiety.
Drug Therapies
Synaptic Gap
Drug Therapies – Beta-Blockers (BBs)
A second example of a drug is Betablockers (BBs), which reduce the activity
of adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Sympathetic Branch
Works with Sympathetic Adrenal
Medullary System (SAM) to activate the
adrenal medulla
Release of adrenaline
Prepares body for fight or flight response
Physiological Reactions e.g. increased
heart rate
Drug Therapies – Beta-Blockers
How do they work?
Stress causes an arousal of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and
this can lead to:
- raised blood pressure
- increased heart rate
These then can cause:
- cardiovascular disorders
- reduction in the effectiveness of the immune system
What BBs do is reduce the activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline which
are responsible for preparing the body for the “fight or flight” response.
The do this by binding to receptors on the cells of the heart and other parts
of the body which are usually stimulated during this arousal.
Drug Therapies – Beta-Blockers
What do they achieve?
By blocking these receptors, it is harder to stimulate the cells.
An example would be the heart; it begins to beat slower and
with less force so blood vessels do not contract easily. This
then leads to a fall in blood pressure which in turn means less
stress on the heart. The person would begin to feel calmer
and less anxious.
Real World Application
Lockwood (1989) studied over 2,000 musicians in major US
symphony orchestras and found that 27% reported taking
BBs. It was found that those musicians who had taken BBs
felt better about their performance, as well as receiving a
better report from critics.
• Drugs can be very effective in combating the effects of
• One way to assess effectiveness is to compare outcomes
– one group of anxious patients is given a drug another
group is given a placebo- a substance that has no
pharmacological effects (i.e. it has no effect on the
body). Patients are given medication but do not know
whether it is the real thing or the placebo. This enables
us to determine whether the effectiveness of the drug is
due to its pharmacological properties or to something
psychological (e.g. simply believing that taking the drug
will make you better.)
• Kahn et al(1986)followed nearly 250 patients over
eight weeks and found that BZ’s were significantly
superior to a placebo. A meta-analysis of students
focusing on the treatment of social anxiety ( Hidalgo
et al,2001) found that BZ’s were more effective at
reducing this anxiety than other drugs such as antidepressants.
• Beta-blockers are effective in reducing anxiety in a
variety of stressful situations e.g. among musicians
and in sports where accuracy is more important than
physical stamina ( e.g. snooker and golf)
Ease of use:
• One of the great benefits of using drugs for
stress is that the therapy requires little effort
from the user. You just have to remember to
take the pills. This is much easier than the
time and effort needed to use psychological
methods. For example, stress inoculation
therapy requires a lot of time, effort and
motivation on the part of the client if it is to
be effective.
Weaknesses of
• Patients can exhibit withdrawal symptoms
even with LOW doses of Benzodiazepines
• This indicates a psychological dependence
The more you do it
The more you’ll end up doing it
The more problems you’ll have
Physical, psychological, social health problems
The more difficulty you’ll have stopping it
Physical, psychological dependence
Possible Side
• Increased aggressiveness with BZs
• Impairment of memory with BZs
• Some studies have linked Beta blockers to an
increased risk of developmental diabetes
Treating symptoms rather
than the problem
• Effectiveness of drug treatments for stress
and anxiety
• Only lasts as long as the person takes the drug
because the problem itself has not been
A technique that trains people to improve their
health by controlling certain bodily processes.
There are different types of biofeedback treatments used. The 3 commonly used
biofeedback treatments are as following:
-Electromyography- Measures Muscle Tensions
- Thermal biofeedback- Measures skin temperature
- Neurofeedback- Measures the brain wave activity
Neal Miller (1961) suggested that ANS (autonomic nervous system)
responses could be voluntary. As a result of his experiments, he showed that
such autonomic processes were controllable; this led to the creation of
Dr. Barry Sterman established that both cats and monkeys could be trained
to control their brain wave pattern. He linked his study to humans and
experimented on humans with epilepsy; as a result he was a able to reduce
seizures by 60% using Biofeedback.
Many scientists believe that relaxation is the key
to a successful Biofeedback treatment.
When going under chronic stress, your body has
high blood pressure, Biofeedback therapy
lowers this blood pressure level through a
process of relaxation techniques and mental
When successful, the results are shown on a
monitor to the patient encouraging their efforts.
It is effective for a range of health problems
 Lack of side effects
 Research has shown; It eases symptoms of “Raynaud’s disease” (a
condition that causes radical blood flow to fingers, toes, nose or ears)
 It reduces pain
 It is effective in children as well; Neurofeedback has been reported to
improve behaviour and intelligence scores in children with attention
deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
 It also helps relieve abdominal pain in children
Requires specialist equipment
 Can be more expensive and difficult to use at home than other
 It may be the biofeedback itself that’s important; it may be the person
developing a sense of control over their well being, learning simple
relaxation techniques, all with a commitment to getting better.
 Dorkin & Miller (1986)- weren’t able to replicate Miller and Dicara’s
findings with rats, which casts doubt on the response of ANS to operant
Biofeedback is…
• A- a drug therapy
• B- something that has many side
• C- a therapy involving recording the
bodies response to stressors
Biofeedback is…
•C- a therapy
involving recording
the bodies response
to stressors
Biofeedback involves
the use of…
• A- therapist, electrodes and monitors
• B- drugs, exercise and meditation
• C- reducing serotonin levels,
increasing blood pressure
Biofeedback involves
the use of…
•A- therapist, electrodes
and monitors
People are encouraged
•A- try various strategies to
combat the type of stress
One advantage of
biofeedback is…
• A- its quick and cheap
• B- its effective for a range of health
• C- establishes the causes of stress
One advantage of
biofeedback is…
•B- its effective for a range
of health problems
What are the three
types of biofeedback?
• A- Electromyography, Thermal biofeedback,
• B- Neurofeedback, Thermal biofeedback and
systematic desensitization
• C- Electromyography, Neurofeedback and
emotion focused coping
What are the three
types of biofeedback?
•A- Electromyography,
Thermal biofeedback,
What is GABA?
A- a Drug
B- a neurotransmitter
C- a receptor
What is GABA?
B- a neurotransmitter
Valium is an example of…
A- a neurotransmitter
B- a beta blocker
C- a benzodiazepine
Valium is an example of
C- a benzodiazepine
A-reduce activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline.
B- prepares the body for fight or flight
C- slows down the activity of the CNS
C- slows down the activity
of the CNS
Beta blockers…
A- slows down the activity of the CNS.
B-Reduces activity or adrenaline and
C- Are receptor sites.
Beta blockers…
B-Reduces activity or
adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Which one is not a weakness of
A-side effects
B- addiction
C-symptoms treated rather than the problem
D-not easy to use.
Which one is not a weakness?
D- not easy to use.
What type of drug did Lockwood
1989 study relate to?
A- Beta-blockers
B- Benzodiazepines
C- Diamorphine
What type of drug did Lockwood
1989 study relate to?
B- Benzodiazepines