In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe examined the medical records of over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might cause illnesses. The top 7 stressful events list back then were Death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, imprisonment, death of a close family member, personal injury or illness and marriage (yes marriage.)
More recent research based on a large cohort of people during 20-year period suggest an even more insidious and chronic stressors that take an even heavier toll.
1. The inner critic
Freud called it the superego. It is commonly known as the inner critic. Most people experience it as an internal voice that monitors and berates and criticizes on autopilot. Most people respond negatively to the inner critic without realizing what they are responding to, which makes the inner critic a formidable force.
2. Negative relationships
Clinging to stressful, negative relationships is a revolving door for stress and depression. In this case, you have shackled yourself to negativity and empowered another person to pile on. Common scenarios involve maintaining relationships with people who criticize you, reject you, dismiss you, Refuse to meet your needs, etc
Self-sabotage happens when you do the opposite of what would make you happy and successful. It's called getting in your own way. Examples of self-sabotage include: you know you should not eat that doughnut, but eat three or four.
4. Internal conflict
Internal conflict is at the heart of indecisiveness. On the one hand you want this. On the other hand, you want that. You can spin your mind on inner conflict for weeks and months and not come to any conclusions or take action.
5. Inner passivity
Inner passivity occurs when you experience self-generated problems as if they were being done to you, rather than as something you are doing to yourself and therefore can stop doing. Nothing causes a greater sense of personal helplessness.
6. Mental activity on autopilot
Medical research suggests that autopilot thinking - the constant churning of the mind that occurs when you are not consciously engaged in a task.
7. Physical or nutritional imbalance– eating well, etc.
Our thoughts are constantly helping us to interpret the world around us, describing what’s happening, and trying to make sense of it by helping us interpret events, sights, sounds, smells, feelings. Because of our experiences, life story, culture, religious beliefs and family values, we often make very different interpretations of situations than others.
Cognitive therapy was developed with the belief that a person's experiences result in thoughts. These are connected with schemas or core beliefs developed from early life to create our view of the world and determine our emotional states and behaviours. Disorders are sometimes maintained by negative attitudes and distorted thinking. We must of all, at one point or another held views, or patterns of thoughts that might be seen as thinking errors, fantasies, fallacies and faulty thinking. And faulty ways of thinking are often more likely to occur when we are stressed.
Cognitive therapy focuses on altering faulty thinking patterns. The father of Cognitive therapy, Aaron Beck proposed six types of faulty thinking
Drawing conclusions about oneself or the world without sufficient and relevant information. For example a man not hired by a potential employer perceives himself as totally worthless and believes he probably will never find employment of any sort.
Drawing conclusion from very isolated details and events without considering the larger context or picture. For example a student who receives a C on an exam becomes depressed and stops attending classes even though he has A's and B's in his other courses. The student measures his worth by failures, errors, and weaknesses rather than by successes or strengths.
Holding extreme beliefs on the basis of a single incident and applying it to a different or dissimilar and inappropriate situation. For example a depressed woman who has relationship problems with her boss may believe she is a failure in all other types of relationships.
The process of overestimating the significance of negative events. For example a runner experiences shortness of breath and interprets it as a major health problem, possibly even an indication of imminent death.
Relating external events to one another when no objective basis for such a connection is apparent. For example a student who raises his hand in class and is not called on by the teacher believes that the instructor dislikes or is biased against him.
An "all-or-nothing," "good or bad," and "either-or" approach to viewing the world. For example at one extreme, a woman who perceives herself as "perfect" and immune from making mistakes; at the other extreme, a woman who believes she is totally incompetent.