• You're all caught up!

Five Major Causes of Stress

author image Lia Stannard
Lia Stannard has been writing about women’s health since 2006. She has her Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and is pursuing a doctorate in clinical health psychology.
Five Major Causes of Stress
A woman is standing behind a stack of papers. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images


When faced with a stressful situation, the human body responds with the fight-or-flight response. The sympathetic nervous system reacts, resulting in symptoms such as a racing heart beat and increased sweating. After the stress goes away, the parasympathetic nervous system activates, returning the body to normal. Certain events cause high levels of stress in people, such as major life changes.


A person's job can be a source of stress, especially because of the amount of time spent there each week. The Mayo Clinic states that an overwhelming workload or a difficult boss can increase the level of stress. If a person does not like her job, has a long commute or has altercations with her co-workers, she can experience even more stress. Helpguide.org notes that on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, getting fired from a job is the eighth most stressful life event.


Strained relationships can add stress to a person's life. Divorce is the second most stressful life event on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, according to Helpguide.org, followed by marriage separation. Abusive relationships can add even more stress. However, positive relationships can result in stress as well. Marriage is the seventh most stressful life event on the Holmes-Rahe list, and marriage recollection is the ninth.

Life Changes

Certain major changes in a patient's life can cause large amount of stress. The Mayo Clinic notes that both positive life changes, such as a pregnancy, and negative life changes, such as the death of a loved one, can result in stress. The death of a spouse is the most stressful life event on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, and the death of a close relative is the fifth. While a positive event for many people, retirement is considered the tenth most stressful event.


Some environmental factors can cause or add to a person's life of stress. Mayo Clinic notes that two environmental factors, noise and excessive light, can induce stress. These environmental stressors can be worse if they are not controllable.


Stress also can be caused by a person's inner thinking. For example, unrealistic expectations and perfectionism can make events in which a person did not realize his ideals even more stressful. Pessimism and negative self-talk also can cause stress.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media