Major Life Changes

Whether it’s something you’ve been expecting or something that comes completely out of the blue, big changes can have a huge impact on your life. Even good changes can trigger distress or make it worse. Understanding the effects of change can help you adjust faster with less difficulty and upset.


Unexpected losses, events, or challenging situations are part of our lives and can cause significant stress. A single stressful event or a series of ongoing events may trigger depression or anxiety at any point in life, even many years later.

‘Traumatic events’ are terrible, unexpected events like accidents, natural disasters, a sudden death or being attacked. These events can result in emotional and psychological trauma, and this can have an impact on all aspects of our well-being.

There are all kinds of events that require you to make changes in your everyday life that aren’t necessarily traumatic but still very challenging. Sometimes these events change how you see yourself. Some of these events that can trigger distress include:

  • illness, injury, or developing a long-term medical condition 
  • a job loss or a new job
  • a relationship breakup
  • a suicide attempt by a close friend
  • the death of a close friend
  • a change in living conditions. 

While you may not have control over the events themselves, you can control what you do about them. Ignoring them may only make things worse. 

Changes to your role in life

Even life changes that you’ve expected and planned for can be harder to adjust to than you expect. Changes in the role, like becoming a parent or retiring, usually affect important areas of your life, such as:

  • where you live
  • how do you define yourself
  • your goals in life
  • people’s expectations of you
  • your beliefs
  • who you have around to support you.

The difficulty, challenges, and conflict that come along with these life changes can contribute to depression and anxiety.

Keep in mind that a significant change for one person can affect the whole family and close relatives. For example, having a baby doesn’t just involve new roles and responsibilities for the parents. It can also bring about changes for the whole family, including brothers and sisters, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. These changes require some adjustment by everyone.

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