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Mental Health Center

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1 in 3 Adults Feel Extreme Stress

Extreme Stress Taking a Toll on Health, Relationships, and Work, Survey Shows
WebMD Health News

Oct. 25, 2007 -- Nearly a third of U.S. adults report "extreme stress" in a new survey from the American Psychological Association.

The results include:

  • 32% report extreme stress
  • Nearly one in five (17%) reach their highest stress level 15 or more days per month.
  • Almost half (48%) say their stress level has risen over the last five years.

Stress didn't come as a surprise. Most participants indicated that stress is a natural part of life.

But the survey shows that participants are suffering physically, emotionally, professionally, and personally as a result of stress.

Stress and Health

Most participants -- 82% -- say they manage their stress well. But they also admit that stress causes problems with their physical and mental health, relationships, and work.

More than three out of four participants -- 77% -- said that within the previous month, they had had physical problems due to stress.

Those problems included fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite, teeth grinding, change in sex drive, and feeling dizzy.

Almost as many participants -- 73% -- reported stress-related psychological symptoms in the previous month, including irritability, anger, nervousness, lack of energy, and feeling on the verge of tears.

Losing Sleep, Eating Badly

Stress kept nearly half of participants -- 48% -- awake at night during the previous month. They reported losing 21 hours of sleep during that month.

Almost half of participants -- 43% -- said they had overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods because of stress in the previous month. Candy and chocolate were their most popular comfort foods.

Two-thirds of smokers said they smoked more when they were stressed, and 17% of drinkers said they drank too much within the previous week because of stress.

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