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    Stressful Life Events

    Many of the physical and psychological problems that patients present relate to normal life stresses. Some researchers view stress as a stimulus, while for others it is an inferred inner state or an observable response to a particular stimulus or situation. Stress can be a responses to a perception of threat, loss, and challenges of self-esteem.¹

    Stress can arise from a variety of source¹:

    • Internal organic environment;
    • External physical environment;
    • Psychological environment;
    • Sociocultural milieu

    Stressful life events refer to stimuli or situations to which everyone is exposed to a varying degree in the natural course of life. Examples of a stressful life event could be marriage, separation, job promotion, or job demotion.¹ The events themselves are not stressful; it is the need to adapt to the events that becomes stressful for the individual.¹

    Assessment of stress

    The physician should assess both the stress which the patient is experiencing and the coping behavior which he or she manifests in response to it.¹ The physician should also be aware of the individual's life situation, the demands it makes on him or her, certain characteristics of the individual, and the external resources and supports available to him or her. Evaluating a patient's work, family, and social situation is vital in understanding his or her response to stress.¹

    It is also important to assess how the individual is coping with their stress.¹ Their coping ability, itself may determine the severity of the stress he experiences. According to researchers, individuals may manifest action-oriented or defense-oriented responses.¹ Action-oriented responses include taking some type of action which may or may not directly change the stressful situation, withdrawal from the situation, or a compromise reaction. Defense-oriented responses aim to protect the self from hurt and disorganization.¹

     

     

    Image source: Irish Examiner

    Reference:

    1. Yvonne Steinert. Helping Patients Cope with Stressful Life Events. Retrieved May 2, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2379473/pdf/canfamphys00294-0057.pdf

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