2014 APA Annual Stress Survey
Beginning in 2007, the American Psychological Association has commissioned an annual survey to study of the connection between stress, behavior, and mind/body health. The Stress in America survey measures attitudes and perceptions of stress among the general public and identifies leading sources of stress, common behaviors used to manage stress and the impact of stress in our lives.
Reported stress levels for American overall have gone down, but 75% say they experienced at least one symptom of stress per month, such as feeling irritable and angry, feeling overwhelmed, lacking motivation, feeling fatigued, sad, or not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. While stress levels appear to be balancing out, they remain high and exceed what Americans consider to be healthy. Extreme stress was reported by 22%, which is indicative of a serious trend that could have long-term consequences on people’s health.
Money continues to be the leading cause of stress for Americans, a new survey finds. Overall, stress in the United States is at a seven-year low, and average stress levels are declining, the American Psychological Association poll found. But money worries continue to nag at the American psyche, despite the ongoing economic recovery, the association says in its report released Feb. 4, entitled Stress in America: Paying With Our Health.
Leading sources of stress for adults in 2014:
1. Financial 64%
2. Work 60 percent
3. Family responsibilities 47 percent
4. Health concerns 46 percent
Nearly three out of four adults reported feeling stressed about money at least some of the time, and about one in four adults said they experienced extreme stress over money during the past month, according to the report.
The good news is that, on average, Americans’ stress levels are trending downward. The average reported stress level is 4.9 on a 10-point scale, down from 6.2 in 2007, the report found. Despite this, the association found that Americans are living with stress levels higher than what psychologists believe to be healthy, and 22%say that they are not doing enough to manage their stress.
Financial stress can affect people in direct and intimate ways, the survey found. One in five adults said they have skipped or considered skipping going to the doctor for treatment because of financial concerns. Almost one-third of adults with partners report that money is a major source of conflict between them.
To combat money stress, the association recommends seeking emotional support from family and friends. It found that people without a shoulder to lean on tend to suffer worse from stress. For example, 43% of people without emotional support said their stress has increased in the past year, compared with 26% of those with support. However, opening up about budget worries can be tough. “Starting conversations about money is challenging, because nearly one in five Americans believe it is a taboo subject, and more than one-third report that talking with family members about finances makes them uncomfortable,” reports Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APA executive director for professional practice.
Financial stress particularly affects women, parents and younger adults, the survey found. For instance, three out of four parents and adults younger than 50 said money is a somewhat or very significant source of stress. Women are more likely than men to report money as a significant source of stress, 68 percent versus 61 percent. A gap also appears to be emerging in stress levels between people living in lower-income and higher-income households, the report found. In 2007, there was no difference in reported average stress levels between those who earned more and those who earned less than $50,000.
But by 2014, a gap had emerged, with those living in lower-income households reporting higher overall stress levels than those living in higher-income households — 5.2 versus 4.7 on the 10-point scale.