Friday, February 10, 2012


Quite some time ago I saw a list of the most stressful or depressing events in life. So I Googled it and found the same list. You earn points for each one of these things that has happened to you during the past year. Oh Boy!

This Social Readjustment Rating Scale is available at a number of Web sites. I copied the following from Wikipedia.


In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe examined the medical records of over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might cause illnesses. Patients were asked to tally a list of 43 life events based on a relative score. A positive correlation of 0.118 was found between their life events and their illnesses.
Their results were published as the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS),[1] known more commonly as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Subsequent validation has supported the links between stress and illness.[2]



To measure stress according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, the number of "Life Change Units" that apply to events in the past year of an individual's life are added and the final score will give a rough estimate of how stress affects health.
Life eventLife change units
Death of a spouse100
Marital separation65
Death of a close family member63
Personal injury or illness53
Dismissal from work47
Marital reconciliation45
Change in health of family member44
Sexual difficulties39
Gain a new family member39
Business readjustment39
Change in financial state38
Death of a close friend37
Change to different line of work36
Change in frequency of arguments35
Major mortgage32
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan30
Change in responsibilities at work29
Child leaving home29
Trouble with in-laws29
Outstanding personal achievement28
Spouse starts or stops work26
Begin or end school26
Change in living conditions25
Revision of personal habits24
Trouble with boss23
Change in working hours or conditions20
Change in residence20
Change in schools20
Change in recreation19
Change in church activities19
Change in social activities18
Minor mortgage or loan17
Change in sleeping habits16
Change in number of family reunions15
Change in eating habits15
Minor violation of law11
Score of 300+: At risk of illness.
Score of 150-299+: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).
Score 150-: Only have a slight risk of illness.

My problem with this scale is that you only get points for stuff that's happened to you in the past year. I've experienced so many of these life events, some of them over and over, but not necessarily during the past year. Yet I know they've contributed to my ongoing depression.

Look at the most stressful event -- death of a spouse. My Kathy's husband died about 2 1/2 years ago. She only earns the Big 100 Points if her husband died within the past year, but do you think Kathy has stopped feeling that loss?

Anyway, I wanted to introduce you to this scale, and I think our What? Monday question will have something to do with this. But I think I'll need to figure out a way to modify the scale because our feelings don't automatically cease when we hit the one-year mark.

At least mine don't. I sure wish they did.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


  1. Who creates this stuff? Why do we have to (as a society) be forced to fit our feelings and emotions in a scale of numbers? I just don't get it. It's like standardized testing all over again.

  2. These scales are like IQ tests - how do you assign points to subjective things like stress or intelligence? There are so many different kids of stress just like there are ways to be intelligent. People get published for putting stupid scales like this together, write a few textbooks and retire behind their white picket fence. Sorry, this is coming from a psych major who bailed on her field after graduation because of scales like this.

  3. According to this, I should kill myself. D:

  4. My score was somewhere between 50 & the hell with it!

  5. Doesn't even list relationship trouble...only trouble if you have a spouse...guess us unmarried people don't have to worry! :-0

  6. Queen Bee and Michelle, I'm glad you don't like the scale because we're going to talk about it again on Monday. (shhhh! I don't like it either.)

    My 2 Pesos, I DID kill myself. But I came back to life. I'm perfect for all those zombie blogs.

    fishducky, That's right. What difference does it make?

    Stephanola, You don't have to worry anyway because you have Rudolph.

  7. I couldn't read the whole list. I believe we have to learn to cope with the small to medium stuff in life so as not to get stressed. When someone dies, you mourn. That is a process you have to go through. It seems terrible to have to wonder how ill you might become while in that process. It has to run its course. And it may last the rest of your life. So my take on this is that I don't like charts like this at all.

  8. Dear Janie,
    We have such a tendency in this country to want to pigeonhole, to quantify, to pinpoint. As Walt Whitman said, "I am large. I contain multitudes."
    So how can we assign points?


  9. Inger and Dee, I LOVE your comments. My What? Monday question will have to do with this "scale."

  10. I agree divorces are very high up on the list :(

  11. Baur, Yes, divorce is a biggie. One of the problems I have with this scale, though, is that sadness doesn't automatically end at the one-year mark.

  12. When I lost my husband, people told me that divorce is worse. They said, separated by death is easier than separated while living. If I were to choose a time mark, I would pick three years.

  13. oceangirl, My Kathy also says that divorce is worse than the death of a spouse. She's been through each. She feels that way because ex-husbands pop up to cause trouble. I don't know which is worse, but it's been 2 1/2 years since her husband died; and she's still in deep mourning. I think it all depends on the person and how you feel about your spouse. I also think economic security is very important.

  14. looking at this, i think life as a kid was just awesome.
    i had NO complaints at all.

    when someone dies, when will you ever let go?
    it's so difficult.

  15. Jaya, You must have had a lovely childhood. I can't imagine having a cut-off date for mourning. My parents died many years ago. I miss them more and more as time passes.

  16. While whoever wrote this might have a point, you're right about the year thing.

    And who really needs a list to work out that those things can be stressful.
    The problem with things like this is they take no account of the fact that we are all different.
    The thing that affects me the most might not bother the next person quite so much or for so long.
    It's why I stopped studying psychology, they try to teach it as a science ... if XYZ happens to you, you will have ABC problems. When it comes to individuals nothing is set in stone and no two of us are totally the same.

  17. Jane, The variety of guest posts I've received proves your point.


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