The latest survey shows stress is on the decline overall, but still hover above healthy levels, especially for young adults.
In the national Stress in America survey, an annual analysis by Harris Interactive for the American Psychological Association, 35% of adults polled since 2007 reported feeling more stress this year compared to last year, and 53% said they received little or no support from their health care providers in coping with that heightened stress. The survey involved more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who answered an online survey in August 2012.
The participants ranked their overall stress level on a scale from one to 10, with 1 being ”little or no stress” and 10 being ”a great deal of stress.” Overall, stress in America has been declining since 2010, when 24% of Americans reported experiencing extreme stress compared to 20% in 2012. And on average, the participants reported a stress level of 4.9, compared to the 5.2 they reported in 2011.
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But that trend masks some concerning hints that those declines aren’t deep enough. Most adults said that they considered a stress level of 3.6 to be healthy, or manageable, and current levels remain stubbornly above this mark. The common source of stress involved money, with 69% of participants citing financial problems and conflicts as the primary cause of their anxiety, while 65% fingered work, 61% noted the economy, and 56% pointed to relationship angst.
The most concerning trend emerging from the data, however, is the fact that most Americans don’t feel they are managing their stress well, and that the healthcare system isn’t there to help them cope. A little over half of the participants said they received little or no support for stress management from their health care providers and while 32% felt it was important to discuss their concerns about stress with their health care providers, only 17% said they actually did.