In This Article
In This Article
Major life events can be exciting, but sometimes, people struggle to adjust to the changes they bring. Even positive life events can be stressful, and ultimately it can be helpful to talk with a therapist if coping with the change becomes too difficult.
Major life events are those that bring significant life changes. Holmes and Rahe (1967) created the Social Readjustment Scale (also called the Holmes and Rahe stress scale) and identified numerous events that could create stress. The following types of events were included in their scale:
These life changes can be either positive or negative, and they vary in their degree of severity. For example, most people would agree that going on vacation is a minor life event when compared to being sentenced to jail or losing a job.
Furthermore, some events like a pregnancy can seem mostly positive, whereas other major life stressors like health problems, legal trouble, and financial changes tend to be negative.
When experiencing one or more of such events, people may find themselves feeling significant stress. Some signs that big life events are creating stress include:
Some people may also become depressed or suffer from anxiety or panic attacks due to the stress of life-changing situations. Over time, lasting stress can create additional negative symptoms, such as:
According to experts, such events cause stress because people can have difficulty adapting to them. Ultimately, this can lead to physical and psychological problems (Wethington, 2016). Even if such events are positive, they can bring changes that may seem threatening or worrisome.
In some cases, problems surrounding major life changes can be a result of an adjustment disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, an adjustment disorder is “the development of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor.”
To meet the criteria of an adjustment disorder, a person must experience problems in functioning as well as distress that seems extreme given the nature of the stressor. In addition, an adjustment disorder involves symptoms of depression, anxiety, or conduct problems; in some cases, it can involve a mix of these three.
Therapy can be beneficial for someone who is struggling to adjust to events in life. With the help of a trained mental health professional, those who are experiencing life changes and stress can learn healthy coping mechanisms.
They can also receive treatment for any co-occurring issues, such as depression or anxiety that have arisen from major life changes. Therapy can also help people to reframe negative events and create meaning from them.
Those who struggle with managing the stress of significant life events or who have developed an adjustment disorder as a result of life stressors can benefit from various types of therapy. Some that may be especially effective are as follows:
If you are seeking a counselor who is skilled in treating issues surrounding life changes and stress, it is helpful to contact local counseling centers and schedule an appointment with someone who specializes in issues like anxiety or adjustment disorders. It may also be beneficial to ask for an appointment with a counselor who has experience treating specific issues, such as divorce, relationship problems, or grief.
You can search online for “stress therapists near me” or “therapist for life change transitions” to find local directories of therapists or counselors in your area and then choose one based on their credentials and experience.
If you are dealing with a life stressor that causes depression or anxiety, you can find a support group through the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
The costs you can expect to incur from therapy will vary depending upon whether or not you have insurance, and what type of insurance you have. Your insurance provider may cover a certain number of sessions, but require you to cover a copayment during each visit with your counselor.
If you are without insurance, the counseling agency where you receive treatment may offer payment plans or a sliding fee scale based on income. If you are struggling to cover the cost of treatment, you may qualify for Medicaid insurance or reduced-cost treatment from a community mental health center.
If you’re unsure of what to expect in terms of covering the costs of treatment, do not hesitate to ask for assistance. Cost should not hold you back from getting the treatment you need to adjust to major life events and learn to cope with stress in a healthy manner.