It is of course a truism that when bad things happen to people, people feel bad. But the obviousness and simplicity of this statement belie interesting and puzzling complexities. There is disagreement about what “stress” means, and in many ways it is simply a shorthand term to describe a variety of conditions that tax people’s coping capabilities—even though each separate type of circumstance may elicit its own complex responses. In the families we studied, there were horrific events—violent abuse, death, suicide, molestation—as well as countless personal and domestic adversities that are the normative, if unwelcome, aspects of living. And yet some people become very depressed while others do not, even when very troubling events occur. Some people appear to become depressed from events that others may find relatively trivial. Events themselves do not necessarily happen by fate; sometimes it appears that individuals may instigate or contribute to the occurrence of negative events. Not only must we consider significant episodic events that happen with a definite beginning, but we must also investigate the role of ongoing chronic strains. Every individual and family experience recurring or continuing challenges in certain realms, such as financial security or quality of relationships.
KeywordsAffective Disorder Stressful Life Event Family Conflict Family Stress Daily Hassle
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