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What Are The Major Causes Of Stress?

The Physician's Desk Reference* brings us some interesting facts regarding stress. Some of the major causes may surprise you. Are you at risk? Read on to find out more...

"Life Change Unit" Stress Ratings

Did you know any change - good or bad - means stress; and that the more intense the change is, the greater its impact? A standard scale to rate change and its related stress impact has been developed. Commonly referred to as the LCU Rating (or Life Change Unit Rating), here's what it looks like:

Stressful Event LCU
Child leaving for college 28
Major change in eating habits 29
Vacation 29
Job promotion 31
Major change in sleeping habits 31
New romantic relationship 32
Breaking up 35
Troubles with co-workers 35
Changing jobs 38
Major change in living conditions 39
Major purchase 39
Troubles with boss 39
Major dental work 40
Injury or illness that hospitalized you or kept you in bed a week or more 42
Marital reconciliation 42
Accident 44
Marriage 50
Major change in health or behavior of family member 52
Miscarriage or abortion 53
Marital separation 56
Job demotion 57
Loan or mortgage foreclosure 57
Decreased income 60
Pregnancy 60
Divorce 62
Death of brother or sister 64
Getting fired 64
Death of parent 66
Death of spouse or child 105

Now that you are aware of some of the LCU ratings, exactly how much stress are you under? Are you experiencing any symptoms?

Stress - Symptoms

There's some conflicting information floating around on the Internet, and elsewhere, regarding stress, but one area seems to be in agreement by all - if repeated, combined, and sustained, stress-causing situations and/or experiences can produce enough stress to make you sick.

Here's a brief list of just some of the symptoms:

  • sleep difficulties,
  • migraines and headaches,
  • neck aches and back spasms,
  • heart irregularities,
  • digestive problems,
  • menstrual problems,
  • skin disorders such as hives, acne, and other rashes.
Keep in mind, the above symptoms could also be the result of some other disorder, and as we keep reminding people on our website, your first line of defense is always a visit to the doctor. And, it's also important to pay more attention to what you eat...

Stress And Nutrition

During times of pro-longed stress, one of the first things to go usually is the healthy diet. Most of us have all been here ... "so much to do, so little time" ... and yet, proper nutrition may be one of your best defenses against serious damages to your body during prolonged periods of stress.

According to PDRHealth, "The most that can be said with certainty is that if you undergo a period of severe, protracted stress, or have symptoms of a stress-related disorder, it makes sense to pay extra attention to the way you eat. This is a time when a well-balanced diet is more important than ever. And a well-balanced multivitamin—including the antioxidant group of nutrients: C, E, beta-carotene, and B-complex—might be something to consider as well."

They further state "You can actually intensify the level of emotional stress you experience by eating incorrectly. If you stop eating or eat less, you won't fulfill energy demands or meet nutrient requirements. And if you eat everything in sight, you'll gain weight, which for many people is in itself a source of stress."

The Bottom Line On Stress

The bottom line is, don't treat stress lightly. The worst plan is having no plan at all. Understand the causes, recognize the symptoms, pay attention to your nutrition, and work with your doctor, particularly if you feel your stress is getting out of hand. And please - be kind to yourself. We care about you here at!

Additional Sources and Resources About Stress