Stress may contribute to 85 percent of all medical problems, says Connie Tyne, executive director of the Cooper Wellness Program in Dallas, which counsels executives on stress reduction. Fifty-two percent of executives will die of diseases related to stress, according to Tyne.

A recent study found that people who get less than five hours of sleep twice a week or more are 300 percent more susceptible to heart attacks. Their overall rate of developing heart disease doubles.

Constant stress has been shown to shrink the hippocampus, a region of the brain that controls memory and concentration. "We all know anecdotally that when someone is under stress they don't have the clearest vision," says Tyne.

When a large corporation nearby was going thru layoffs, the number of car accidents on the way home from work shot way up and they had to institute safe driving classes. [Ed.]

The best antidote to stress is exercise. And viewed in the context of the chemistry of the fight-or-flight response, that makes sense. Exercise is simulated flight - a chance for all the sugars and hormones in the bloodstream to be used for their intended purpose. Exercise also feeds our brains some feel-good drugs such as dopamine and beta-endorphin—evolution's reward for safely escaping the tiger.

Source: Stress - science behind stress - strategies for coping - CIO Magazine Aug 1,2003

Stress and Cancer:
It has been common thinking for some time that stress is a major cause of cancer, but studies have been unable to prove this.
In 2003 Swedish researchers said that being under stress may double a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.
Hundreds of studies have measured how stress impacts our immune systems and it's ability to fight disease. At Ohio State University, researcher Dr. Ron Glaser, Ph.D., found that students under pressure had slower-healing wounds and took longer to produce immune system cells.
Cancer cells produce proteins that block the immune system, so there may be an indirect link.

Self Help Guides:
Emergency Self-CareWorksheet
Source: by Elaine S. Rinfrette - posted at the University at Buffalo

Self-Care Checklist
Source: National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Does Stress Cause Cancer? at the Cancer Council in Australia,
Stress: A Cause of Cancer? at Dr. John M. Grohol's
Does Stress Cause Breast Cancer?, research by Oesten Helgesson, MD, physician, department of primary healthcare, Gothenburg University, Sweden at WebMD.
Is There a Link Between Stress and Cancer?, By Gina Kolata, New York Times, November 29, 2005

Stress Factors (Stressors):
  • financial problems
  • too much driving
  • worry about children
  • health problems
  • pressure at work (deadline)
  • not enough exercise
  • poor diet (especially skipping meals)
  • spouse relationship issues
  • being overweight
  • working too many hours
  • caretaking an elder
  • no quiet time
  • conflict with co-workers
  • bored with routine
  • conflict with family member
  • noisy environment
  • sexual problems
  • nobody to talk to
See life Event - Social Re-adjustment stressors below.

Life Event - Social Readjustment Stressors

"In the 1960s, Drs. Holmes and Rahe devised a Social Readjustment Rating Scale that attempted to quantify the degree of distress caused by various life-altering events, ranging from the greatest stressors (the death of a spouse, divorce) down to such minor nuisances as getting a traffic ticket. While a noble effort, this Scale (or any other attempt to generalize about the effects of change) is of extremely limited use in predicting the likely impact of an event on a specific individual. This is partly because the same event can impact individuals very differently, depending on their coping skills, and partly because the events vary so widely in their unfolding. For example, the death of a young spouse in an auto accident would likely have a very different impact than the death of an elderly partner due to an extended siege with Alzheimer's. What CAN be generalized about individual reaction to change, though, is that over time internal psychological adjustments are made that usually bring most people back to approximately the same level of happiness they were at before the change occurred."
This does not cover all stressful situations, e.g. military service, death of a child, ... .
It does not consider steady state conditions like working too many hours, boring routine, not enough time for recreation/relaxation, Type A personality, etc.
See other stress factors above.

The table was updated in 1977 by Schaefer, Hiroto, Wilner and Levin.
See References below.

See the Effects of Stress below.

The following table allows you to determine the total amount of stress you are experiencing by adding up the relative stress values, known as Life Change Units (LCU), for various events. 

The test is used to determine of developing a stress-related illness in the next two years. Check boxes that apply and compute score below.

Adult Stress

Holmes and Rahe stress scale - Wikipedia
  Event Value
Death of spouse 100
Divorce 73
Separation from living partner 65
Jail term or probation 63
Death of close family member other than spouse 63
Menopause 60
Serious personal injury or illness 53
Marriage or establishing life partnership 50
Fired at work 47
Marital or relationship reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Change in health of immediate family member 44
Work more than 40 hours per week 35
Pregnancy or causing pregnancy 40
Sex difficulties 39
Gain of new family member 39
Major business re-adjustment
(e.g., merger, reorganization, bankruptcy)
Change in financial state 38
Death of a close friend (not a family member) 37
Change to different line of work 36
Change in number of arguments with spouse or life partner 35
Mortgage or loan for a major purpose 31
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
Major change in sleeping habits 16
Change in responsibilities at work 29
Trouble with in-laws,or with children 25
Outstanding personal achievement 25
Spouse begins or stops work 20
Begin or end school 20
Change in living conditions (visitors in the home, change in roommates, remodeling house) 20
Change in personal habits (diet, exercise, smoking, etc.) 20
Chronic allergies 20
Trouble with boss 20
Change in work hours or conditions 15
Moving to new residence 15
Presently in pre-menstrual period 15
Change in schools 15
Change in religious activities 15
Change in social activities (more or less than before) 15
Minor financial loan 10
Change in frequency of family get-togethers 10
Vacation 10
Presently in winter holiday season 10
Minor violation of the law 5

Score Chanch of
stress-related Illness
in next two years
<150 30%
150 to 300 50%. 
>300 80%
Other lists:
At Top 5 Stressful Situations & Stressors in life they say, "The death of a child is probably the worst pain anyone can endure and many people never fully recover from this type of stress, however, they do manage to go on with their lives for the sake of others around them."

See other effects of stress below.

Stress Scale for Youth

  Event Value
Death of spouse, parent, boyfriend/girlfriend 100
Divorce (of yourself or your parents) 65
Puberty 65
Pregnancy (or causing pregnancy) 65
Marital separation or breakup with boyfriend/girlfriend 60
Jail term or probation 60
Death of other family member (other than spouse, parent or boyfriend/girlfriend) 60
Broken engagement 55
Engagement 50
Serious personal injury or illness 45
Marriage 45
Entering college or beginning next level of school (starting junior high or high school) 45
Change in independence or responsibility 45
Any drug and/or alcoholic use 45
Fired at work or expelled from school 45
Change in alcohol or drug use 45
Reconciliation with mate, family or boyfriend/girlfriend (getting back together) 40
Trouble at school 40
Serious health problem of a family member 40
Working while attending school 35
Working more than 40 hours per week 35
Changing course of study 35
Change in frequency of dating 35
Sexual adjustment problems (confusion of sexual identify) 35
Gain of new family member (new baby born or parent remarries) 35
Change in work responsibilities 35
Change in financial state 30
Death of a close friend (not a family member) 30
Change to a different kind of work 30
Change in number or arguments with mate, family or friends 30
Sleep less than 8 hours per night 25
Trouble with in-laws or boyfriend's or girlfriend's family 25
Outstanding personal achievement (awards, grades, etc.) 25
Mate or parents start or stop working 20
Begin or end school 20
Change in living conditions (visitors in the home, remodeling house, change in roommates) 20
Change in personal habits (start or stop a habit like smoking or dieting) 20
Chronic allergies 20
Trouble with the boss 20
Change in work hours 15
Change in residence 15
Change to a new school (other than graduation) 10
Presently in pre-menstrual period 15
Change in religious activity 15
Going in debt (you or your family) 10
Change in frequency of family gatherings 10
Vacation 10
Presently in winter holiday season 10
Minor violation of the law 5

Source of above calculator: Mark Henri (


  • Holmes, T.H. & Rahe, R.H. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11, 213-218.
  • Horowitz, M., Schaefer, C., Hiroto, D., Wilner, N., and Levin, B. (1977). Life Event Questionnaires for Measuring Presumptive Stress. Psychosomatic Medicine 39(6): 413-431.

The 20 most common stressors identified by individuals over 65.
  1. Concern for world conditions
  2. Slowing down
  3. Decreasing number of friends or losing old friends
  4. Time with children or grandchildren too short
  5. Feeling of remaining time being short
  6. Thinking about your own death
  7. Change in your sleeping habits ( such as ability to fall or stay asleep, change in place of sleep, etc.)
  8. Wishing parts of your life had been different.
  9. Constant or recurring pain
  10. Reaching a milestone year (becoming 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90)
  11. Not enough visits to or from family members
  12. Change in your sexual activity
  13. Concern for children (such as out of work, divorce, arguments, etc.)
  14. Reducing eyesight
  15. Concern for grandchildren
  16. Concern for completing required forms (such as income tax, Medicare forms, etc.)
  17. Decreasing mental abilities (such as forgetting, difficulty with decision-making, planning, etc.)
  18. Change in your diet or eating habits
  19. Death of close friend
  20. Major change in number of family get-togethers
Source: Shirlee Ann Stokes, RN, EdD, FAAN and Susan E. Gordon, RN, EdD at Pace University's Lienhard School of Nursing from Identifying and Reducing Stress in Your Life at ElderCare Online™
Effects of Stress
The original Holmes-Rahe study estimated the chance of illness based on stress, but there are other effects.

The damaging effects of stress can result in changes in physiological processes which alter an individual's resistance to disease, as well as changes leading to fatigue or malfunctioning of the organ system. The following are examples of stress symptoms :
Physical Upset stomach, trouble sleeping, accidents and injuries, tight chest or throat, backaches, constipation, headaches, exhaustion, weight loss or gain.
Mental Trouble concentrating, difficulty making decisions, forgetfulness, scary thoughts, making errors, repetitive thoughts. Emotional Grumpy, tense, impatient, hopeless, hostile, easily upset, no pleasure in pastimes, lonely, depressed.
Behavioural Excessive drinking, changes in appetite, driving too fast, illicit drug use, getting into arguments, becoming a loner, working too much, criticising others a lot.
Although stress reactions are physiologically consistent, people do not react to stressors in the same way, nor do individuals react the same way to a particular stressor; stressors are "personal". Some people are "stress seekers" who look to increase the stress in their lives, while others, who feel they have too much stress, suffer from overstress so try to avoid it as much as possible.
Source: Canadian Defence Academy - "Moving-on; A handbook for members preparing for release"

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last updated 16 May 2006