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Open Access Psychosocial Stress, the Unpredictability Schema, and Cardiovascular Disease in Women

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Depression/anxiety-related disorders and psychosocial stress have been implicated as cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. Women are at considerable risk for affective disorders and report greater severity from psychosocial stress, compared to men. Affective disorders and cardiovascular disease likely share underlying pathophysiological mechanisms that are potentiated among women – especially younger women. Environmental stressors that threaten the safety, security, and status of an individual are appraised by the brain, producing a cascade of evoked physiological and cognitive responses. In the short term, these processes overcome stressors, but come with long-term health implications. Chronic psychosocial stress leads to a dysregulation of the stress response systems that can lead to a heightened stress appraisal schema called the unpredictability schema, a construct that might arguably place women at heightened risk for CVD.
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Keywords: cardiovascular disease; psychological stress; depression; anxiety; Women; unpredictability schema; life history theory; psychosocial stress

Affiliations: University of California Medical School

Appeared or available online: 16 January 2019

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