From the death of a child to divorce to personal injury, there are many top stressful life events that can affect both your mental and physical health.

The correlation between stressful life events and physical health has been studied extensively over the years. In fact, the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is used by physicians and scientists to determine if the most stressful life events can predict future illness. It’s actually a list of 43 stressful life events that have been found to contribute to illness.

This scale is helpful in knowing whether a person is at risk for getting an illness in the future, or even if they can take advantage of stress reduction interventions.

A Look at the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale

Back in 1967, researchers Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe found that a strong correlation between health and stress did indeed exist. This prompted them to rank stressful situations on a scale from most to least stressful, indicating which life stressors place individuals at a higher risk for becoming ill.

Each stressful event was assigned a “Life Change Unit” score. Over the course of a year, those scores are added together to calculate your risk of illness. The top 10 most stressful life events for adults are:

  1. Death of a spouse or child
  2. Divorce
  3. Marital separation
  4. Imprisonment
  5. Death of a close family member
  6. Personal injury or illness
  7. Marriage
  8. Dismissal from work
  9. Marital reconciliation
  10. Retirement

For children and teens, the most stressful events include:

  1. Death of a parent
  2. Unplanned pregnancy/abortion
  3. Getting married
  4. Divorce of parents
  5. Acquiring a visible deformity
  6. Fathering a child
  7. Jail sentence of a parent for over one year
  8. Marital separation of parents
  9. Death of a sibling
  10. Change in acceptance by peers

Types of Illness

Of course, there are other stressful life events for both children and adults than those listed above, from buying a new home to being the victim of a crime. The point is, stressful life events can cause a variety of illnesses for anyone of any age.

Stress not only affects our physical health, it also affects our minds and our behaviors. It’s important to be able to recognize and manage common stress symptoms. Ignoring those symptoms can contribute to a variety of health problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

Your body will tell you that stress is taking a toll, manifesting itself in chronic pain, fatigue, muscle tension, sleep problems, stomach upset and irritable bowel syndrome. In fact, stress is one of the most common triggers of flare ups of fibromyalgia, a long-term condition causing pain, tenderness and extreme sensitivity to touch.

Some of the types of illnesses that can develop as a result of stress include:

  • Chronic pain (lower back and neck pain)
  • Obesity: This is a root cause of many other serious conditions. When stress becomes chronic, excessive levels of cortisol (stress hormone) develop fatty deposits around the midsection.
  • Diabetes: Stress increases the glucose levels of those with Type 2 diabetes.
  • Depression and anxiety: Stress increases the chances of developing these conditions by 80 percent.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: Stress can worsen gastrointestinal issues, as well as contribute to chronic heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Premature aging: Studies show that chronic stress accelerates the pace of aging.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Stress may accelerate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, as it can cause the brain to form lesions more rapidly.

Contact Summit Spine & Joint Centers for Pain Relief

If stress has been manifesting itself in chronic pain or worsening your fibromyalgia and other conditions, call us for a free, no-obligation consultation today at 770-962-3642. We can help relieve your pain and restore your life with many state-of-the-art minimally invasive techniques including treatment options for nerve pain.