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The Sociology of Stress: An Important Consideration

In The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder by Horwitz and Wakefield [2007], the authors include a section related to how sociologists look at mental health-through the lens of stress in people's lives. This may include the loss of employment or failed marriages, inability to attain social mobility, conflicts related to family and work obligations, inequitable living conditions and so forth. The authors also note how sociologists examine stressors like acute life events or chronic and persisting negative social conditions and how they can and do affect health outcomes. Since a major source of stress comes from the loss of intimate attachments, it is natural and normal that we experience sadness.

An article by P. Cleary regarding the methodological issues associated with the use of depression screening scales in primary care settings attests to the three life events considered as the most stressful in research samples of ordinary Americans, namely, the death of a spouse, divorce and marital separation. As well, research studies in this discipline also 'indicate that the severity and duration of the loss response is related to the degree of stressfulness found in the conditions of people's lives.' [p. 203]

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