Land of the Free, Home of the Stressed

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Americans are having a collective freak-out. Fear and anxiety about politics and the future of the country are a significant source of stress for nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S., new research has found. The American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey paints a grim picture of the nation’s collective mental health. Nearly 60 percent of the 3,440 people polled say they consider the present day to be the “lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember,” reports Fortune.com. Pessimism is highest among Democrats and Millennials, but also affects most Republicans and older adults who lived through World War II and Vietnam. “We’re seeing significant stress transcending party lines,” says Arthur Evans, CEO of the American Psychological Association. The uncertainty and generalized anxiety people have about the country, he said, “feels unique to this period in recent history.” Social divisiveness worries 59 percent of Americans, 43 percent are stressed about health care, and 35 percent are fearful about the economy. Other causes of anxiety are distrust of the government, media negativity, crime, terrorism, and international conflicts. Many of those surveyed admit they are losing sleep and experiencing headaches or other physical signs of stress. When stress becomes chronic, Evans says, it “can have real health consequences.”

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