Stress and Trauma
Full course description
This course is designed to give students an in-depth overview of key concepts and controversies in current stress research, with an emphasis on the role stress is thought to play in the aetiology, pathophysiology and course of psychiatric disorders over the lifespan. The first half of the course will focus on the interrelationship of biological and psychological processes in healthy adaptation as well as in psychopathology. In the second half, this detailed knowledge about how individuals respond to and cope with various forms of stress will be applied in order to understand aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): epidemiology, risk and protective factors, prevention, and evidence-based treatment options.
Throughout the course, attention will be paid to how current theories about stress and trauma can be translated into testable hypotheses and feasible research designs. In addition, the generalisability and clinical relevance of findings from experimental stress exposure paradigms and studies in animal models will be considered.
Students will be able to understand:
conceptualisation and measurement of stress, appraisal and coping processes, sympathetic-adrenal medullary system, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, stress neurobiology, experimental stress paradigms, long-term effects of prenatal stress and childhood adversity, gene-environment interactions, environmental sensitivity, epidemiology of trauma exposure, risk and protective factors, social support, resilience, diagnostic criteria, burnout, acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, cognitive mechanisms, biological mechanisms, prevention, clinical trials, treatment approaches (rationale and efficacy), barriers to translating research into clinical practice, ethical issues in stress research.
Students will be able to apply:
designing a study, writing a research proposal, giving a brief empirical presentation, teamwork during small group assignments.
- D.M.J. Hernaus