Ask Dr. Joy: The Impact of Stress in America

By WEEK Producer

June 5, 2013 Updated Jun 5, 2013 at 7:02 PM CDT

Unseen but prominent, stress in America is a dominant force. A recent research study by the American Psychological Association has some staggering statistics that pinpoint the impact, the effects inter-generationally, by gender and region.

Despite the fact that there has been a slight decrease in the statistical rate of stress identified by Americans, our population “feels” more stress than ever before. Our perception is that the impact of stress is at an extreme level. Participants in the study reported our stress level is higher than it should be for our health and well-being.

* 72% of Americans say their stress level has increased or stayed constant in the past five year.
* 80% reported that their stress level has increased or stayed constant in the last year.
* 20% of Americans report their stress level is at extreme levels at an 8,9, or 10 on a 10 point scale.
* 60% of Americans have tried to lower their stress, and 53% of those people say they haven’t met their goal of lowering their anxiety and stress.
* 63% report an acknowledgment that stressors affect our physical and emotional health.

What does the survey show are the biggest stressors in their lives?

* 69% relate their stress to issues related to money.
* 65% rate heightened stress due to work concerns.
* 61% rate stress related to our economy.
* 57% note family responsibilities as a source of stress.
* 56% state that relational issues with significant others and close friends are a source of stress

The American Psychological Association reports that we are struggling to achieve our goals of decreasing our stress levels.

* 37% say they are doing a good job of managing their stress.
* 35% of Americans say they are doing a good job of eating healthy.
* 33% report being involved in daily physical exercise.

The reported causes for lack of success are reported as lack of will-power, availability of time, and the cost of making the change.

The solution…more than 55% of Americans believe seeking counseling would be a powerful tool to lower stress, but sadly only 6% of Americans report seeing a mental health professional to help them lower their stress levels.

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