15 Feb 2017

Survey: Many Americans Stressed About Future of Our Nation

Survey: Many Americans Stressed About Future of Our Nation

New APA Stress in America™ survey shows more Americans reporting symptoms of stress after the election.

With the 2016 elections behind us and having entered a new year, how are Americans feeling?

According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) report Stress in America™: Coping with Change, two-thirds of Americans say they are stressed about the future of our nation.

An APA poll conducted in January found that the current political climate is a very or somewhat significant source of stress for more than half of Americans (57 percent).  Nearly half (49 percent) say the same about the outcome of the election.

While Democrats were more likely than Republicans (72 percent vs. 26 percent) to report the outcome of the 2016 presidential election as a significant source of stress, a majority of Republicans (59 percent) said the future of the nation was a significant source of stress for them, compared with 76 percent of Democrats.

“The stress we’re seeing around political issues is deeply concerning, because it’s hard for Americans to get away from it,” said Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APA’s executive director for professional practice. “We’re surrounded by conversations, news and social media that constantly remind us of the issues that are stressing us the most.”

Nordal also noted that while APA is seeing continued stress around politics, the survey also showed an increased number of people reporting that acts of terrorism, police violence toward minorities and personal safety are adding to their stress levels.

These results come on the heels of an APA survey, conducted by Harris Poll last August among 3,511 adults.  The August survey found that 52 percent of Americans reported that the presidential election was a significant source of stress. The latest survey was conducted online by Harris Poll in early January 2017, among 1,019 adults ages 18+ who reside in the U.S.

Between August 2016 and January 2017, the overall average reported stress level of Americans rose from 4.8 to 5.1, on a scale where 1 means little or no stress and 10 means a great deal of stress, according to the APA survey. At the same time, more Americans said that they experienced physical and emotional symptoms of stress in the prior month, health symptoms that the APA warns could have long-term consequences. 

The percentage of people reporting at least one health symptom because of stress rose from 71 percent to 80 percent over five months. A third of Americans have reported specific symptoms such as headaches (34 percent), feeling overwhelmed (33 percent), feeling nervous or anxious (33 percent) or feeling depressed or sad (32 percent).

“While these common health symptoms might seem minor, they can lead to negative effects on daily life and overall physical health when they continue over a long period,” said Nordal.

APA encourages people to stay informed but know their own limits when it comes to taking in information as one way to diminish the constant exposure to potentially distressing news and the resulting physical symptoms.

“For many, the transition of power and the speed of change can cause uncertainty and feelings of stress, and that stress can have health consequences. If the 24-hour news cycle is causing you stress, limit your media consumption,” said Nordal. “Read enough to stay informed but then plan activities that give you a regular break from the issues and the stress they might cause. And remember to take care of yourself and pay attention to other areas of your life.”

This marks the 10-year anniversary of the Stress in America report, part one of a two-part release. APA released part two on Feb. 23, highlighting how technology use affects stress among Americans. To read the full report go here. (PDF)

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22 thoughts on “Survey: Many Americans Stressed About Future of Our Nation

  1. I am finding a significant number of patients verbalizing the stress mentioned in this survey. I also have found an increasing need for consultation among other clinical colleagues on how to handle these patient issues when many of us are feeling similar concerns. At social events, a discussion among 2 or 3 clinicians quickly grows into 5-7 suggesting this need.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the evident polarization amongst APA members as evidenced in this comment section. The polarization only serves political interest and does not reflect the fact of how much common ground we share. Rather than the traditional labels of liberal and conservative I find it useful to take an integral perspective (Wilber, 1979-2017) and conceptualize the process as progression followed by a longer period of consolidation. Progression moves us forward but will contain attributes that are excessive. These excessive issues (eg. micro-aggression within political correctness) are squeezed out and eliminated by these periods of consolidation which also pulls forward traditional values to be integrated within social progression. I believe psychologist can offer an important role during these turbulent times if we do not allow ourselves to become polarized. Wilber often has written…we all have a piece of the truth….however, some truths are more complete than others”

  2. The results combined the variables “very” and “somewhat” but did not report the individual results for each. I reviewed subsequent methodology and results available at the link “download full report” and still could no locate any findings that made it possible to analyze the individual results of these these two variables. Would the results have been significant without combining theses two variables? The breakdown of the rating scale was not included in any of the methodology and results reporting either, which makes for inadequate results reporting. Further, the heading and timing of this article seems politically charged and arguably irresponsible. I had a patient in my office this week who was upset to learn, “More than half the country is more anxious now that Trump has been elected.” I have no way of knowing if the patient read this specific APA research, but I find it ironic that this article simultaneously contributes to the dissemination of anxiety-provoking information while encouraging its readers to “diminish your exposure” to news that is distressing. Most of my severely mentally ill patients are coming into my office extremely distressed and citing anti-Trump talking points as the cause of their distress-e.g., “Trmps a nazi…he’s taking away the rights of everyone but straight white men…he’s colluding with Russia,” etc. I think it’s important to recognize how current levels of stress and anxiety are being influenced by post-election rhetoric as opposed to “the transition of power” or “the speed of change.”

  3. How about the peaceful transfer of power, a government that enforces its sovereignty, has as an objective the goal to rebuild our cities, return manufacturing jobs to our country, rebuild our infrastructure, support law enforcement and our military? I am very pleased to observe a newly elected president who is actually following the blueprint that he outlined during his campaign. If this article is representative of the way your members feel, you are part of the problem, not the solution!

    1. The news is purposely being distorted by extreme left wing political agitators to incite people into believing that the sky is falling and that they should be concerned when there is no need for thinking that the current officials have malicious intentions. Rather they just see a different course for America’s future, one that involves a more self governing and responsible way of life without an over bearing and controlling government dictating how you run your life. It’s that psychological resistance people have regarding separation-individuation. People need to become adults, not children like the extreme leftist would prefer in order to keep people enslaved.

      1. unfortunately, the leftists are using children to support their propaganda. It is bad enough that colleges and universities have begun indoctrination into a socialist system instead of the freedom of discussion on campus and classrooms…this has trickled to the high school and now the elementary level…NBC and their decision to use young children to continue to promote and instill fear is frightening… Why isn’t the APA standing up for these children and young people in high school? This is child abuse.

  4. Thank for this article. An international perspective: People outside the US, in western democracies, are for the most part extremely worried about what is going on politically in the USA at the moment, and the majority see the current government as extremely conservative (that is aligned with the EXTREME right wing within their own country). The USA is in a global world whether it likes it or not. Many current decisions will reshape alliances and impact politics within the USA. The whole situation is very STRESSFUL because we used to see the USA as a leader. But many nations in the world whether allies of the US or not will not follow a reckless, mean-spirited, and incompetent pseudo-leadership. I am wondering how much impact it will have in all the areas where the US has leadership…
    APA is right to mention those issues.

    1. and you counsel people? sad because you cannot identify facts for their value and the disruption to other countries is not upsetting any democracy at all, rather it is upsetting the design of world top elites suppressing and oppressing the majority of peoples in the world under the assumption the world is better as a whole…The United States Under the direction of the former administration, the United States has been brought almost to its knees. This attempt by the former administration to lower the United States into communism through progressivism has made us not only weak but laughable as well in the eyes of the world.

      1. You should provide you real name and qualifications. Hiding behind a pseudonym in such a forum is totally unprofessional. APA should have some standards in that regards.

  5. I hope that we reduce rather than increase our ‘politically correct’ orientation. I view our APA organization as biased, liberally, making APA a difficult fit for me in the long term. I do not view politically moderate or conservative perspectives to be viewed as valid and frequently portrayed as negative, ignorant. Furthermore, the orientation toward politicizing has us lessening our field’s reliance on the empiricism and scientific methods as our source of emphasis. The “Social Justice” orientation, primarily focused on in the multicultural models, is especially problematic: W ho or what determines what is just and what is unjust.

  6. The nation’s move back toward a more conservative agenda represents a loss on many levels for progressives. Maybe the left-leaning, overly political APA needs to work through its own stages of grief before advising others on how to adjust to the changes.

    1. the move is forward out of socialists takeover of the nation. More than 2/3 of the people are not stressed and out of a constant state of depression and anxiety that the progressives (socialists) have oppressed the 2/3 Americans with over the past decade.

  7. Having someone lead the country that has a severe narcissistic personality disorder and is a chronic psychopathic liar, impulsive and needs a constant narcissistic supply feed should cause anxiety for anyone who is not in denial. Why is he afraid to have his tax returns examined by the public to see what countries he has investments of real estate and other investments. He has been lying since the 1980s but the preponderance of false news is frightening. Just look at the statistics that were done with the fact checking .

    1. Have you evaluated this man? Have you sat and had a conversation with him? How can you level this invalid assumption from listening to a biased and hateful media who has no idea what truth is or what their job is as reporters and journalists? The APA lacks the ability to discern and has not recognized the leftists who call themselves Democrats intents to transfer what they are and what they believe onto those who disagree with them. The APA needs to take a serious look at their role in the undermining of people in this country. The APA needs to remove itself from taking positions in government that are reducing persons to mere automatons – uneducated, dependent, irresponsible and unaccountable. This practice conforms with the socialist left in government that has aided and abetted the progression of a people dependent on the governmental meretricious elite. One should not rely on tertiary sources if not gossip as references.

  8. APA is using a politically charged headline to report annual poll results, and The content does not mention the impact of technology stressors until the last paragraph “to be covered in part two”. It is no surprise that significantly more Democrats than Republicans feel “political stress”. The recommendation to watch less news is absolutely weak. Where are other recommendations about adjusting to/accepting change? Why is there no initial discussion of all life stressors, and limited reference to the 10 point scale, on which the average is only 5.1, midway through? There appears to be writer or institutional bias in this article. Please take note.

    1. As psychologist we have the “duty to warn” as an ethical principle if we know that someone can harm another person and it is unethical to sit back and do nothing. Take a look at the DSM-5 and you do not have to be a mental health professional to make the diagnosis. This man has the nuclear codes and he has the potential to harm millions of people.

  9. Regarding the APA.org report on Americans experiencing STRESS subsequent to the election and now the political clime, it is my view, as a psychologist and APA member, that Liberals become their own worst enemy by resisting common sense conservative policies. President Obama had made consistent detrimental comments about actions of he Police by NOT supporting them or even gathering proper evidence for his feckless and injurious remarks that were synergistic for the Black Lives Matter movement. Now that President Trump IS rectifying the prior errors, some people have become stressed. Poor babies.

  10. What about the millions of people, including other psychologists like myself who feel relieved, excited and invested in our future! Those of us who believe in a sovereign nation, in the enforcement of laws and abhor the tendencies of denial, deflection and demonizising against those of us with opinions different than liberal democrats!

    1. Everyday has been Christmas for me since November 8th–I view our nation returning to its mission–to be the light of nations restoring liberty and freedom as our principles! Hooray for the USA!

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