Major life events that occur in an individual’s lifetime such as death of a loved one, pregnancy, divorce or redundancy all cause stress. Stress, if left unresolved, could lead to serious health problems.
No two people will respond to a crisis in the same way. Equally, different crises will not envoke the same reaction. A Major life event can subsequently impact each individuals’ life in a unique way. However, there are some life events that can cause more stress than others. Recognising such events makes it possible to anticipate and even prepare for them. Therefore, it could be possible to potentially limit the amount of stress the body is subjected to.
The Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) was created by Dr. Thomas H. Holmes and Dr. Richard H. Rahe. Based on their well known study in 1967 into the effects of life events and the subsequent follow-up studies, the two doctors came up with a chart that lists a total of 43 events that can cause stress. Each of the events are ranked in order of their LCU (Life Change Unit), starting with the most high risk changes down to the lower risk ones.
Although there are many other factors in life that can lead to stress, Holmes and Rahe decided to concentrate on just these common key events.
While this approach is obviously a simplification of complex situations, using the SRRS can provide a useful start in recognising and adjusting to life-changing events.
To complete the test, an individual must add up the LCU points of the events that have occured in the last 12 months making a total LCU score.
- An LCU score less than 150 = a 35% chance of developing an illness within the next two years.
- An LCU score between 150-300 = a 51% chance.
- An LCU score over 300 = 80% chance of illness developing, which could become a very serious health risk.
The Social Readjustment Rating Scale
|Death of spouse||100|
|Death of a close family member||63|
|Personal injury or illness||53|
|Being Fired from work||47|
|Reconciliation with spouse||45|
|Change in health of family member||44|
|Addition of family member||39|
|Major business readjustment||39|
|Major changes in financial state||38|
|Death of a close friend||37|
|Changing to a different line of work||36|
|Changes in frequency of arguments with spouse||35|
|Mortgage or loan over £10,000||31|
|Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan||30|
|Major change in responsibilities at work||29|
|Children leaving home||29|
|Trouble with in-laws||29|
|Outstanding personal achievement||28|
|Spouse begins or stops work||26|
|Starting or ending school||26|
|Changes in living condition||25|
|Revision of personal habits (dress, manners, associations)||24|
|Trouble with boss||23|
|Change in work hours, conditions||20|
|Change in residence||20|
|Changes in school||20|
|Changes in recreational activities||19|
|Changes in church activities||19|
|Changes in social activities||18|
|Mortgage or loan under £10,000||17|
|Changes in sleeping habits||16|
|Changes in number of family gatherings||15|
|Changes in eating habits||15|
|Going on holiday||13|
|Minor violation of the law||11|
Holmes and Rahe conducted subsequent research which was complemented by epidemiological studies that investigated the direct relationship between illness and stress. They found strong links between the experience of a stressful life event and subsequent illness including sudden cardiac death, diabetes, pregnancy and birth complications, autoimmune diseases, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and chronic pain. Additionally, the stress generated by a stressful life event has been found to account, at least in part, for psychological disorders including anxiety and depression.