Stress treatment techniques

Stresson April 10th, 20141 Comment

Stress treatment can consist of psychotherapy techniques, pharmacotherapy in conjunction with psychiatric interventions, physiological techniques and a number of other complimentary therapies.


The aim of psychotherapy is to change an individual’s cognitive style in order to better function emotionally and more positively when exposed to stressful stimuli. For example, Costress-111426_640gnitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying irrational and therefore stress -inducing thought patterns and their modification into more rational constructs. Group CBT designed to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in individuals has shown to yield effective results.

However in order to get better results from psychotherapeutic interventions a number of other psychological factors need also be considered. For instance Zinbarg and Uli (2008) identified personality factors as a significant contributor of how conditions such as anxiety, depression, and other stress related disorders should be diagnosed and consequently treated.

Everly (1987) too pointed out that an individual’s personality should be taken into consideration when designing psychotherapy strategies as a person’s distinctive style of personality can inform which kind of psychological stressors are most likely to cause distress. As such personality offers an opportunity to diagnose, monitor the progress and responsiveness to treatment strategies and subsequent recovery from stress related diseases in individuals (Everly 1987).


A number of studies suggest that hormone imbalances and imbalances in homeostasis can be instigated by a disruption in inhibitory factors which in turn could lead to a physiological positive feedback factor consequently causing stress related disorders to occur (Greengaard 1987).  A number of psychiatric medications have been developed to assist individuals regaining their homeostatic equilibrium suffering from this condition (Greengaard, 1987).

Physiological strategies

The hypersensitivity phenomenon within the limbic system has also been the focus of specific methods or techniques of physiologically based therapies aiming to reduce stress via exercise, nutrition, breathing, muscular relaxation, or massage for example.

Alternative therapies (Stress Treatment Techniques)

Other modes of therapies designed to tackle stress disorders include hydrotherapy, meditation, per- suggestion and prayer (Benson 1984).

The measurement of stress

The problem that comes with the measurement of stress is largely due to the often subjective variables aiming to define the construct. What is stressful to one person may not be so for another and so various definitions of what constitutes stress are the consequence. Thus, measurement tools designed to capture the construct are varied and plentiful and some argue that this has led to inconsistencies and consequently resulted in phenomenological and methodological mistakes in their design (Khoozani).  Monroe (2008) points out that especially some self-report measures specifically designed to measure stressful life events also ask participants to appraise their feelings of stress therefore bringing in an element of subjectivity which in itself constitutes a flaw in methodological design.

Generally speaking, there are three areas of measurement in stress research, measurement of life stressors, measurements of stress feelings and measurements of stress physiology.

Measurement of stressors

There are a number of tools designed to measure stress causing events in an individual’s life. For example Holmes and Rahe (1967)examined a sample of 5000 people by correlating their medical records to a rating list of 43 stressful life events in an investigation aiming to find out if these events could have caused  their medical condition and thus found that a significant positive correlation of 0.118 existed.

In 1970, in an attempt to test the reliability of the scale over time a further sample consisting of 2500 people was asked to rate their life events over the previous 6 months after which medical records were examined over the next 6 months following thereafter with the result that the hypothesis of a positive correlation of 0.118 between stress scale scores and illness could be confirmed  (Holmes & Rahe, 1967)

Since then many more have been designed notably the Hassles Scale (Lazarus 1985), the Life Stressor Checklist (Wolfe 1997), and the Stressful Life Experience Screening measure (Stamm 1996)

Measurement of stress feelings

As stress feelings are the response of subjective (perceived) cognitive and emotional processing some scales like the on interactional stress theory based Derogatis Stress Scale (DSS) (Derogatis 1994) evaluate a combination life events, personality factors, as well as emotional responses to capture the construct. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) (Cohen 1983) is perhaps one of the most widely used tools aiming to measure how certain situations are perceived as stressful or uncontrollable.

Measurement of stress physiology

The measurement of stress physiology based on its focus can be divided into four subclasses:

Neural axis

The measurement of the neural axis involve technologies such as for example electrodermal, electromyographic , or cardiovascular techniques to investigate the state stress response there and then instead of the long term effects of stress.

Neuroendocrine axis

Here urine, plasma and saliva are used to investigate the levels of the adrenal medullary catecholamines such as adrenaline or noradrenaline to find out how stress affects the organism.

Endocrine axis

The measurement of cortisol indicating the level of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and catecholamines in the blood is considered one of the most effective measures of the organisms stress response. (Kirschbaum 1995)

Target organ

Other measurements of the stress response are focused on specific target organs, i.e. an investigation into how organs like the heart, stomach or intestines for example may be affected though exposure to stress.



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  1. The Effects of Stress | For Hypnotherapy In Perth says:

    […] If you would like to read more about how to Treat Stress please continue to our article Stress Treatment Techniques […]