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December 1974

Symptom Intensity and Life Stress in the City

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago (Dr. Uhlenhuth and Mr. Stern); and the Psychopharmacology Research Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, Md (Drs. Lipman and Baiter).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(6):759-764. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760180005001

Association between symptom severity and recent life stress has been documented repeatedly. We report relationships among selfrated symptom intensity, life stress of recent undesirable events, and demographic characteristics in a probability sample of urban adults.

Higher symptom intensities were reported by women, the unmarried, whites, persons under medical care, the youthful, persons of lower social class, and those who experienced more life stress. Higher stress was experienced by the unmarried, whites, persons under medical care, and the youthful. With effects controlled for one another, symptom intensity was associated only with sex, health care status, social class, and life stress.

Results suggest higher life stress accounts partly for the higher symptom intensities among the unmarried, white, and youthful. Higher symptom intensities reported by women and persons of lower social class may be reflections and instruments of a life style.