One-third of Americans are living with extreme stress and nearly half of Americans (48 percent) believe that their stress has increased over the past five years, according to a survey released by the American Psychological Association.
The national survey also found that stress is taking a toll on people — contributing to health problems, poor relationships and lost productivity at work.
Money and work are the leading causes of stress for 75 percent of Americans, a dramatic increase over the 59 percent reporting the same sources of stress in 2006.
The Stress in America survey is part of APA's Mind/Body Health Public Education Campaign.
Fifty-one percent of Americans blame "the housing crisis" as a leading cause of stress, citing high rent or mortgage costs as sources of this stress.
“Stress in America continues to escalate and is affecting every aspect of people's lives, from work to personal relationships to sleep patterns and eating habits, as well as their health,” said psychologist Russ Newman, APA executive director for professional practice, in a news release.
“We know that stress is a fact of life and some stress can have a positive impact, however, the high stress levels that many Americans report experiencing can have long-term health consequences, ranging from fatigue to obesity and heart disease.”
Twenty-eight percent of Americans said they are managing their stress extremely well. But 77 percent of those polled reported physical symptoms, while 73 percent said they suffered psychological symptoms related to stress in the last month.
Physical symptoms of stress include: fatigue (51 percent); headache (44 percent); upset stomach (34 percent); muscle tension (30 percent); change in appetite (23 percent), teeth grinding (17 percent); change in sex drive (15 percent); and feeling dizzy (13 percent).
Psychological symptoms of stress include: experiencing irritability or anger (50 percent); feeling nervous (45 percent); lack of energy (45 percent); and feeling as though you could cry (35 percent). In addition, almost half (48 percent) of Americans report lying awake at night due to stress.
Four in 10 Americans (43 percent) said they overeat or eat unhealthy foods to manage stress, while one-third (36 percent) skipped a meal in the last month because of stress.
Those who drink (39 percent) or smoke cigarettes (19 percent) were also more likely to engage in these unhealthy behaviors during periods of high stress.
Significant numbers of Americans report watching television for more than two hours a day (43 percent) and playing video games or surfing the Internet (39 percent).
Healthy behaviors used to manage stress included: listening to music (54 percent); reading (52 percent); exercising or walking (50 percent); spending time with family and friends (40 percent); and praying (34 percent).