Greetings from Pat Clark-Stucky, DSW, LCSW!
Can Change Make You Sick?
Not many people are surprised to learn that illness often follows a traumatic or difficult event. What does surprise many is that positive events can also cause illness. Drs. Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe theorized that it was the amount of change required by an event, good or bad, that cause ill health. They developed a scale of 43 stressful life events that they used to predict illness in people. Some of these events are considered positive experiences, but they require enough change in a person’s life to be sources of illness-producing stress.
Marriage, for example, ranks seventh on Holmes and Rahe’s Scale. It is a joyous event, but the adjustments it requires make it comparable to divorce in terms of stress.
Retirement is ranked number eleven on the stress scale. While the idea of not working may seem stress-free, the retiree must adjust both identity and daily routine to find a new source of fulfillment and avoid feelings of uselessness.
Promotions or outstanding achievements are also in the top 25 stressors. While they raise self-esteem, promotions also bring concerns about added responsibilities, co-worker reactions, and impact on family life.
Recent research has identified another factor in the change = stress /illness equation. Several studies report that an optimistic outlook coupled with a sense of control (and let’s not forget a sense of humor) can reduce or prevent ill health caused by stress. Anticipating the pitfalls of change, planning as much as possible and focusing on the positive can reduce your risk of stress-induced illness.
If you have any questions regarding the impact of changes on you, please call my office at (973) 966-0386 for an appointment.
Pat Clark-Stucky, DSW, LCSW
P.S. If you have any friends or family members who you think could benefit from therapy focused on the impact of Changes, please don’t hesitate to have them call me for an appointment.