Common causes of stress and impact on relationships

We live in a society where due to the very nature of how to survive in terms of having a home and putting food on the table, additional pressure is forced upon us by the desire to have the things we perceive will add to our comfort. Stress happens when income is reduced or jobs are lost as it impacts on our sense of survival. Money is energy; it clothes us, feeds us and keeps a roof over our heads providing a 'secure base'. An example here may include my clients whose marriage has struggled through major financial loss, the stress on the 'provider', the husband, being so intense that ultimately the relationship broke down through his own shame at being unable to provide and her inability to be able to stand by him.

Well known are the obvious stresses of major life changing events such as moving house, having children, bereavement, illness, traumatic events and so on which will inevitably impact relationships. Another female client spends her day 'stressed' out over a house move. How will it impact on her own survival? Will it be possible to find a house both she and her husband find suitable? Will she be able to sell their own home and actually does she really want to? This same client came to me some years ago whilst going through infertility treatment. We worked through all the issues of wanting another baby and wanting a career all impacting on the relationship between herself and her husband. Now she has a three and half year old daughter, a nine year old son and the stress is about motherhood and home building. The mundane are the everyday stresses of the school run in traffic, having other kids in for tea, meeting parents in the playground with whom she feels the need to compete. All adds to the impact of the woman her husband greets as he comes home from the office in time to put the children to bed. Not to mention the stress he's gone through in a high-flying, hi-tech position somewhere in the city! There is insufficient time in which to spend together alone as a couple impacting on the relationship between them whilst building the future for their children.

If one partner strays for whatever reason and finds himself or herself in the throws of another relationship, the stress factor becomes paramount usually for all in the 'triangle'. Then there is the possibility of additional stress in terms of possible separation involving moving house, divorce and all that goes with it.

In summary there many common causes of stress and to name but a few:

  • work and employment issues
  • financial loss or gain
  • moving house
  • divorce
  • having children
  • environmental conditions
  • bereavement and loss
  • getting married
  • illness and disability
  • life changes
  • self-generated (mental health issues, depression, anxiety, etc).

Stress and depression frequently go hand in hand. According to the World Health Organisation, the statistics for depression in the world show that one in five people get depression at some point in their lives. (Though obviously more than that will suffer from mental illness.) Anti-depressants are on the rise almost everywhere. Iceland has the highest consumption, followed by Australia, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal and the UK. Twice as many women as men will suffer a serious bout of depression in their lives. Combined anxiety and depression is most common in the UK, followed by anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, ‘pure’ depression, phobias, eating disorders, OCD, and panic disorder. Women are more likely to seek and receive treatment for mental health problems than men. The risk of developing depression is about 40 per cent if a biological parent has been diagnosed with the illness.

So it would appear that overall stress is a major factor worldwide and we may postulate that the numbers of those who suffer may well be much higher than one in five!

Sources: World Health Organization, the Guardian, Mind, Black Dog Institute.[i]

[i] Haig, Matt. Reasons to Stay Alive (pp. 56-57). Canongate Books. Kindle Edition

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Kingsteignton, Devon, TQ12
Written by Elise Wardle, MA MBACP (Accred.), Counselling, Psychotherapy & Supervision
Kingsteignton, Devon, TQ12

Elise Wardle MA is an accredited counsellor, psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice. Integrative and Jungian in orientation, her specialisation is in depth psychology with a focus on dreams and the journey within, or for those who need intervention therapy, brief focused counselling is also frequently offered to clients.

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