As Economy Worsens, so Does Stress
80% of Americans Stressed About Economy
Oct. 8, 2008 -- As the economy worsens, Americans' stress level is on the rise. Eighty percent of
Americans said in a September survey that the economy is a significant source
of stress, up from 66% in April.
The top stressors for Americans: money (81%), the economy (80%), work (67%),
and health problems affecting the family (67%), according to surveys by the
American Psychological Association (APA).
The stress is taking its toll on people's health and overall well-being. In
2008, more people reported stress-related physical and emotional symptoms than
they did in 2007, and nearly half of adults said their stress has increased in
the past year. More people reported stress-related fatigue (53% vs. 51% in 2007),
feelings of irritability or anger (60% vs. 50% in 2007), and lying awake at
night (52% vs. 48% in 2007).
Though most Americans think they are managing their stress well, less than
half are exercising to deal with stress.
Passive techniques seem to be more popular, including listening to music, which
52% of participants said they do to relieve stress.
There are also some unhealthy coping strategies. Forty-eight percent of
people say they overeat or choose unhealthy foods to deal with stress. Eighteen
percent drink alcohol to cope, and 16% smoke.
People should monitor their own stress levels and seek support, according to
psychologist Katherine Nordal, the APA's executive director for professional
"People's emotional and physical health is more vulnerable, given the
high levels of stress in our country right now," she says in a news
release. "Pay attention to what's happening around you, but refrain from
getting caught up in doom-and-gloom hype. Take stock of your particular
situation and what causes you stress. Reach out to family, friends, and trusted
advisors. Research shows that receiving support from others is effective in managing stress. If you
continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, then consider seeking professional
Data were collected online through a partnership with Harris Interactive and
the American Psychological Association. Participants lived in the United States
and were at least 18 years old. Data were collected in several chunks. One
survey, conducted between June 23 and Aug. 13, included 1,791 adults. Another
conducted in April included 2,529 adults, and the one in September included
2,507 adults. The APA says no sampling error can be calculated.