Although stressful life events may affect the health of both men and women, men are more vulnerable, according to a recent study of nearly 3,000 people in Finland.
The study, published in the September/October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, looked at whether psychological problems (such as anxiety and mental distress) and health-risk behaviors (such as smoking and alcohol use) underpin the health effects of life events.
Four major life events were studied: the death or serious illness of a family member; being a victim of physical, psychological or sexual violence; severe interpersonal conflict such as divorce; and severe financial difficulties caused by job loss, for example.
"A large body of research suggests that there is a link between stressful life events and later health problems," says the studys lead author, Mika Kivimäki, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychology at the University of Helsinki in Finland. "We found that all the event categories studied were associated with increased psychological problems and impaired health. The death and serious illness of family members … were rated the most severe events."
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