Behavioral and physiological reactions to the stress of a major life crisis were studied prospectively in a group of healthy elderly individuals. Significant decreases in caloric intake, body weight, and lymphocyte count were found following the stressful event with a return toward baseline levels after a recovery period. Significant increases were found for psychological distress and serum cortisol. The results support the thesis that behavioral and physiological changes occur during an event perceived by an elderly person to be stressful and that such changes can have adverse effects on health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas