Stress - glossary

Acute stress
A transient state of arousal, typically with clear onset and offset patterns.

A multi-component response to a perceived threat or danger. The response can include psychological, physiological, cognitive and behavioural elements.

Anxiety disorders
Mental disorders marked by physiological arousal, feelings of tension, and intense apprehension without apparent reason.

A model of health and illness which suggests that links among the nervous system, the immune system, behavioural styles, cognitive processing and environmental factors can put people at risk of illness.

The syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and reduced personal accomplishment, often experienced by workers in high-stress jobs.

Chronic stress
A continuous state of arousal in which an individual perceives demands as greater than the inner and outer resources available for dealing with them.

Clinical psychologist
An individual who has achieved a doctorate in psychology and whose training is in the assessment and treatment of psychological problems. In order to use the title clinical psychologist, they also need to be registered with the Health Professionals Council (HPC).

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is a psychotherapeutic treatment for mental health conditions. Treatment usually takes between eight and 20 sessions. It’s a combination of cognitive therapy, which can modify or eliminate unwanted thoughts and beliefs, and behavioural therapy, which can help to change behaviours in response to those thoughts.

Depression is a broad diagnosis, characterised by depressed mood and/or loss of pleasure in most activities. Severity of the disorder is determined by both the number and severity of symptoms and the degree to which it interferes with an individual's day-to-day activities.

Fight-or-flight response
A sequence of internal activities that are triggered when an organism is faced with a threat, and which prepares the body for combat and struggle, or for running away to safety.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
A long-term condition which causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.

Major depressive disorder
A mood disorder characterised by intense feelings of depression over a long period of time, without the manic high phase of bipolar depression.

Occupational health nursing
A nursing specialism that covers health and wellbeing in the workplace. For more information, visit the websites of the Association of Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners and the Royal College of Nursing.

Occupational medicine is defined by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine as ‘the medical specialty which covers the multi-faceted relationship between health and work’

Occupational physician
A doctor with specialist training and qualifications in occupational medicine. You can get more information from The Faculty of Occupational Medicine.

Occupational psychologist
Occupational psychologists are concerned with how organisations function and enhancing the performance of people at work. Occupational psychologists have a first degree in psychology and a postgraduate master’s degree in occupational psychology. In order to use the title occupational psychologist, they also need to be registered with the Health Professionals Council (HPC).

A medical doctor with special training in mental illnesses and emotional problems. A psychiatrist may prescribe medication for the treatment of psychological disorders. The Royal College of Psychiatrists outlines more.

Psychology is defined by the British Psychological Society as ‘the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour’. Different kinds of psychologist may be involved in preventing and managing stress, including clinical, occupational and health psychologists.

Psychosocial hazards
Psychosocial hazards typically refer to work characteristics which could equally be termed ‘sources of stress’.

Any of a group of therapies used to treat psychological disorders that focus on changing unhelpful or harmful behaviours, thoughts, perceptions, and emotions that may be associated with specific disorders.

An internal or external event or stimulus that induces stress. THOR The Health and Occupation Reporting network (THOR) is a voluntary surveillance scheme for work-related ill health.

Under this network, specialist doctors undertake to report systematically all new cases that they see in their clinics. These reports are collated and analysed by a multidisciplinary team at the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Manchester University.

Work-related stress
Work-related stress is defined by the HSE as ‘the process that arises where work demands of various types and combinations exceed the person’s capacity and capability to cope’.

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