June 23, 2017

American stress is on the rise

18 February 2017, 12:51 | Elizabeth Houston

After a bruising election that saw Donald Trump take the reigns of a divided nation, two-thirds of Americans-including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans-say they are stressed about the future of the country, according to a recent survey (pdf) released by the American Psychological Association (APA).

African-Americans reported higher levels of stress resulting from the Trump victory than any other demographic group.

The American Psychological Association polls Americans about their stress every year.

Two-thirds of those polled - 66 percent - said they were stressed over the future of the nation and almost half - 49 percent - said the outcome of the election was either a very significant or significant source of stress. While the August 2016 poll marked the first time that politics-related questions were included in the Stress In America survey, the new poll in January showed that politics was now a major source of stress for Americans. 76 percent of self-identified Democrats were apprehensive about America's direction while 59 percent of self-identified Republicans felt similarly.

Anxiety about politics may have contributed to an overall increase in Americans' stress levels in just the past few months, too.

"Those also contribute to feelings of stress, so again back to the idea of 'there's been a lot of change going on, ' and so I think people are reacting to that", Diaz-Granados said. The latest survey suggests that stress over politics hasn't abated.

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Additionally, the percentage reporting police violence toward minorities as a very or somewhat significant source of stress increased from 36 per cent to 44 per cent during the same period.

The APA says it's concerned about what sustained stress levels among Americans could mean for public health.

Geographic location also appears to have played a role, with 62 percent of those in urban areas reporting stress, compared to 45 percent in the suburbs and 33 percent in rural areas. Some symptoms include: 34% have reported specific symptoms such as headaches; 33% feeling overwhelmed; 33% feelings nervous or anxious; and 32% feeling depressed or sad.

Ms Nordal said the transition of power and the speed of change can cause uncertainty and feelings of stress. "If the 24-hour news cycle is causing you stress, limit your media consumption", said Katherine Nordal, APA's executive director for professional practice.

Although most people expected that the stress would go away after the presidential campaign, it actually became more prevalent because many of them haven't gotten used to the fact that Donald Trump is the President of the United States. "Read enough to stay informed but then plan activities that give you a regular break from the issues and the stress they might cause".

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