By Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- It's a high-anxiety time: Nearly two-thirds of Americans are stressed out by thinking about the future of the United States, a new survey finds.
Stress rates tied to worries about where the nation is headed were slightly higher than rates for "regular" sources of stress, such as money and work.
"We're seeing significant stress transcending party lines," Arthur Evans Jr., chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association, said in a news release from the group, which sponsored the poll.
About 63 percent of survey respondents cited the country's future as a very or somewhat significant source of stress, versus 62 percent who acknowledged financial stress and 61 percent who cited job-related stress.
The survey of more than 3,400 adults, conducted in August, found that 59 percent of respondents said they consider this the lowest point in American history that they can remember. Poll participants included people who had lived through World War II, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Roughly six in 10 people cited current social divisions in the nation as the cause of stress.
"The uncertainty and unpredictability tied to the future of our nation is affecting the health and well-being of many Americans in a way that feels unique to this period in recent history," Evans said.
Among respondents, proportionately more Democrats saw the country's future as stressful: 73 percent, versus 56 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents.
When thinking about the future of the United States, the issues most often identified as stress-inducing were: health care (cited by 43 percent of respondents); the economy (35 percent); trust in government (32 percent); hate crimes (31 percent); crime (31 percent); wars/conflicts with other countries (30 percent); terrorist attacks in the United States (30 percent); unemployment and low wages (22 percent); and climate change and environmental issues (21 percent).
The state of the nation has led 51 percent of poll respondents to volunteer for or support causes important to them. The findings showed that 59 percent have taken some form of action in the past year, including 28 percent who signed a petition, and 15 percent who boycotted a company or product because of its social or political views or actions.
The survey also found that while 95 percent of respondents follow the news regularly, 56 percent said that doing so causes them stress, and 72 percent believe the media exaggerates issues.
"With 24-hour news networks and conversations with friends, family and other connections on social media, it's hard to avoid the constant stream of stress around issues of national concern," Evans said.
"These can range from mild, thought-provoking discussions to outright, intense bickering, and over the long term, conflict like this may have an impact on health," he said. "Understanding that we all still need to be informed about the news, it's time to make it a priority to be thoughtful about how often and what type of media we consume."
Results of the poll, "Stress in America: The State of Our Nation," were released Nov. 1.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on stress.
SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, Nov. 1, 2017
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