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Advances in Understanding the Impact of Stressful Life Events on Health
Thomas W. Miller
Psychiatric Services 1988; doi:
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Appreciation is extended to Robert Kraus, M.D., Eleanor Royalty, Deborah Kessler, Katrina Scott, Lone Hensley, Becky Lenox, Debbie Howard, and Jenny Gift for their assistance in reviewing and preparing this manuscript.

Department of psychiatry, Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Albert B. Chandler Medical Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40536

American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Throughout history, philosophers have debated the interaction of mind and body, but only in the last decade have psychiatrists and other health professionals begun to scrutinize how stressful life events may precipitate or contribute to the onset of illness. While traumatic experiences can profoundly affect physical and psychological well-being, their impact may be mediated by factors such as body chemistry and personality traits, which may predispose an individual to greater resilience or greater vulnerability to life stresses. This review covers research exploring the relationship between life stresses and illness, particularly the eating disorders and myocardial infarction, and describes efforts to develop objective instruments to assess the degree of stress associated with specific life events, a task known as life-events scaling. Avenues for future research are recommended.

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