General Health Problems such as Coronary Heart Disease and Chronic Headaches Psychology has done a great deal in educating people about the processes and the ways the human mind impacts and affects body systems. Over the years, this field of science has provided people bases of understanding several cognitive processes and problems which people deal with everyday. However, as a broad field, psychology branches out to explicate other general health issues in terms of psychological causes, effects, and interventions.
Some of these health problems which psychology covers today are the Coronary Heart Ailment and cases of Chronic Headaches. Hence, this paper aims to discuss and explain how the field of Psychology can be related to and how it can elaborate on these health problems. Psychology in Coronary Heart Disease Heart disease has been known all over the world to be one of the most common causes of death. In the United States alone, two weak hearts give off and die every minute due to heart ailments and other heart-related conditions (Clay, 2007).
Considering this thought, it is not just the field of Cardiology that is working out on eliminating these fatal health problems. Over the recent years, a field called Psychocardiology or cardiac psychology now opens doors to explain how psychosocial factors and interventions can contribute to the acquisition of the disease (Clay, 2007). Coronary Heart Disease or CHD is a general term which pertains to the condition wherein cardiac ailment results from the shortage of oxygen that reaches the heart (Feuerstein, Labbe, & Kuczmierczyk, 1986).
The disease is widely recognized all over the world due to its horrible fatal rates which make information campaign about the disease very significant. Although many people know the basics about CHD, what some of them do not know yet is that there is a certain part of the disease that can only be explained by psychocardiology. Psychocardiology defines the distinct personality which has been found to be at risk of acquiring CHD the most. This was identified as the Type A person. Feuerstein, Labbe, and Kuczmierczyk (1986) explained this construct in their book, Health Psychology.
Type A individuals are characterized as people who easily and/or frequently get impatient over usual everyday activities and experience difficulty in focusing on one activity at a time since they are always in a hurry accomplishing their daily tasks. People with ac Type A personality also tend to take more and more responsibilities than what they can actually accommodate (Feuerstein, Labbe, & Kuczmierczyk, 1986). These kinds of people are found to be more prone to CHD since their behaviors and activities greatly induce stress and depression.
Greater psychological reactivity, which causes their cholesterol levels and their blood clotting times to rise, and imposes heavier work load for the heart, was also found among Type A individuals (Feuerstein, Labbe & Kuczmierczyk, 1986). Aside from this, various studies still further prove that there is direct and solid connection between psychological conditions and CHD. Psychological researchers have already focused on internal factors in order to view this presumed relationship between psychology and CHD closer.
It has been discovered that factors such as depression, anxiety, and social isolation, which are all symptoms of certain psychological disorders, seem to contribute greatly to the acquisition of CHD (Clay, 2007). At some point, international cardiologists performed a world-wide survey and assessed 12,000 CHD patients. The survey includes criteria which determine whether they qualify to a state of depression before the diagnosis of CHD. The results report that 50% of the surveyed patients showed histories of depression which more likely can be considered as a major factor that led them to CHD (Marano, 2003).
In reviewing these studies and researches in the field of psychocardiology, it may appear that psychology indeed associated with a lot of other health problems and issues such as alcoholism, smoking, drug addiction, eating problems and many others. Just like in CHD, all of these health conditions consist of factors and interventions which are attributed to people’s behavior, social stability, and personality and can only be explained through the principles and concepts in psychology. Psychology can enter the serious picture of CHD in a simple factor as stress.
Stress is often taken for granted as a common phenomenon, but with the study of psychology and its relationship with CHD, it can be seen that stress has more to it than what people know about, because with the study of psychocardiology, it can be understood that stress can actually lead to the fatal CHD. Thus, several factors and interventions such as restlessness and stress can be taken for granted if not for the explanations brought by psychology. However, aside from CHD, there are still a great number of common health conditions which psychology tries to explore.
One of these conditions is the common case of Chronic Headaches. Psychology in Chronic Headaches The pain and terrible uneasiness brought by headaches cause depression among patients all over the world. This disease has also been one the most common sources of frustration and despair due to the aggravating pain it causes (Disorbio, 2008). The main focus of relief and cure in chronic headache cases is the source of pain. Pain can be considered to be the major frustrating factor in these cases. As a physiological sign, pain is generally attributed to physical factors.
However, several comprehensive studies on pain like in chronic headaches conditions have been conducted having particular focus on the psychological perspective. These studies work on identifying behavioral and cognitive factors that affect pain and also the appropriate behavioral treatment for this condition. In understanding chronic headaches in this perspective, one may discover that the process of thinking of emotional and sensory ideas has a direct effect on the intensity of the felt pain (Borkum, 2007).
Related studies also show evidence that an individual’s attention to and focus on the pain indeed cause the condition to get worse in varied levels. Psychology also plays a relevant part in identifying several psychological factors which can bring about chronic headaches. The usual cases of headaches like tension headaches and migraines have been found to have some connection to an individual’s emotional stability. A person was found to be more prone to suffer these kinds of headaches when he or she is exposed to depressing family environment and is isolated from friends and other significant others (Disorbio, 2008).
This was discovered to be possible since these people who have weaker emotional states tend to deal with frustration and depression more inadequately, and they also tend to have a more negative outlook on things, including pain. Thus, through psychology, chronic pain can be treated through understanding how thinking can get over the individual’s tolerance of pain. Several studies have also proven that a degree of pain control can be accomplished by deviating one’s attention to other tasks and objects aside from the pain (Borkum, 2007).
In most clinics, it can be noticed that doctors are starting to teach their patients several ways on diverting their attention from the pain to other things. This is because of the consideration that psychological processes play an important part in one’s tolerance and forbearance for pain. Hence, it may appear that although these health conditions typically have the biological explanation and background in discussing their nature and treatment, the field of psychology apparently greatly contributes to understanding the other aspects of these conditions by explaining the psychological interventions and causes of such health conditions.
Although the psychological explanation for these health conditions may not be as popular as the knowledge of people about their physical reasons, it still appears evident that psychology plays a significant role in understanding these health problems from a different perspective. References Borkum, J. M. (2007). Chronic Headaches: Biology, Psychology, and Behavioral Treatment. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence and Erlbaum Associates. Clay, R. A. (2007). One Heart- Many Threats. Monitor on Psychology, 38 (1), 46. Retrieved December 17, 2008 from American Psychological Association (APA)
Online: http://www. apa.org/monitor/jan07/threats. html. Disorbio, M. (2008, March 27). The Psychology of pain- headaches. National Pain Foundation. Retrieved December 18, 2008 from http://www. nationalpainfoundation. org/MyTreatment/articles/Headache_TO_Psychology. asp. Feuerstein, M. , Labbe, E. E. & Kuczmierczyk, A. R. (1986). Health Psychology: A Psychobiological Perspective. New York, NY: Springer Publication. Marano, H. E. (2003, Januray 3). Heart saved: treating depression may prevent heart-related deaths. Psychology Today. Retrieved December 18, 2008 from http://www. psychologytoday. com/articles/pto-20030103-000011. html.