It's not just you, we're all living in the United States of Anxiety

May 12, 2018 by Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Feeling more anxious these days? You've got plenty of company.

A new survey from the American Psychiatric Association reveals that 39 percent of Americans feel more anxious now than they did a year ago. That's more than double the 19 percent of Americans who feel less anxious now than at this time last year. (Another 39 percent of survey respondents said their level is about the same, and 3 percent weren't sure.)

Worries about safety topped the list of anxieties, with 36 percent of Americans describing themselves as extremely anxious about "keeping myself or my family safe." About 31 percent said they were "somewhat anxious" on this score.

Financial fears were close behind. The prospect of paying bills and other expenses made 35 percent of survey respondents feel extremely anxious, and 32 percent said it made them somewhat anxious."

And then there were concerns about health. The 28 percent of Americans who reported being extremely anxious about their medical condition were joined by 39 percent who said they were somewhat anxious about it.

All this angst contributed to a 5-point increase in the country's "national anxiety score," the psychiatry group reported this week in conjunction with its annual meeting in New York City. The metric, which is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, rose from 46 in 2017 to 51 in 2018.

There seems to be plenty of anxiety to go around.

The APA noted that anxiety was up among men and women, among people of various racial and ethnic groups, and among adults of all ages.

Generationally speaking, the most anxious Americans are millennials, the survey found. But in the past year, anxiety increased more for Baby Boomers than for millennials or for members of Generation X.

America suffers from an anxiety gender gap, according to the poll. Among adults younger than 50, 38 percent of men and 57 percent of women said they had become more anxious in the past year. They were joined by 24 percent of men and 39 percent of women ages 50 and older.

People of color scored 11 points higher on the anxiety scale than white Americans, the APA said.

The contentious political climate is a significant source of anxiety for a majority of Americans, the survey found. One in five respondents said they were extremely anxious about "the impact of politics on my daily life," and 36 percent said they were somewhat anxious about it.

And anxiety seems to follow Americans wherever they go. Relationships with family, friends and co-workers made 20 percent of respondents feel extremely anxious and 27 percent of them feel somewhat anxious.

These findings are based on a nationally representative sample of 1,004 adults, who answered questions about anxiety during late March. Their responses were compared with results from a similar conducted in April of 2017. The poll's margin of error is 3.1 percentage points.

"Increased stress and anxiety can significantly impact many aspects of people's lives," Dr. Anita Everett, president of the American Psychiatric Association, said in a statement. Her prescription for reducing stress includes "regular exercise, relaxation, healthy eating and time with friends and family."

Explore further: Americans say they are more anxious than a year ago; baby boomers report greatest increase in anxiety

Related Stories

Americans say they are more anxious than a year ago; baby boomers report greatest increase in anxiety

May 8, 2018
Americans' anxiety levels experienced sharp increases in the past year, according to new national poll released today by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Majority of Americans say they are anxious about health—millennials are more anxious than baby boomers

May 23, 2017
Nearly two-thirds of Americans are extremely or somewhat anxious about health and safety for themselves and their families and more than a third are more anxious overall than last year. By generation, millennials are the ...

Americans are more anxious than before

May 11, 2018
Americans are becoming more anxious about their safety, health, finances, politics and relationships, a new online poll from the American Psychiatric Association finds. Compared to the results of a similar poll a year earlier, ...

Nearly one in three people know someone addicted to opioids

May 8, 2018
The opioid crisis continues to weigh heavily on the minds of Americans, according to a new national poll released today by the American Psychiatric Association, (APA). Nearly a third of Americans say they know someone who ...

For Americans, understanding money eases old age anxiety

February 2, 2018
A new household economics study from Hiroshima University suggests that financially literate people are more capable of accumulating wealth and worrying less about life in old age. This study is the first of its kind to examine ...

New survey reveals effects of incarceration for older Americans' work and retirement plans

May 4, 2017
Americans age 50 and older who report that they have been incarcerated at some point in their lives are more likely to express anxiety about several aspects of retirement, to have experienced unemployment in the recent past, ...

Recommended for you

Suicide risk in abused teen girls linked to mother-daughter conflict

October 18, 2018
Teenage girls who were maltreated as children are more likely to entertain suicidal thoughts if the relationship with their mother is poor and the degree of conflict between the two of them high.

Study shows how bias can influence people estimating the ages of other people

October 17, 2018
A trio of researchers from the University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University has discovered some of the factors involved when people make errors in estimating the ages of other people. In their paper published ...

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer

October 16, 2018
Infants are more likely to learn from on-screen instruction when paired with another infant as opposed to viewing the lesson alone, according to a new study.

Researchers use brain cells in a dish to study genetic origins of schizophrenia

October 16, 2018
A study in Biological Psychiatry has established a new analytical method for investigating the complex genetic origins of mental illnesses using brain cells that are grown in a dish from human embryonic stem cells. Researchers ...

Income and wealth affect the mental health of Australians, study shows

October 16, 2018
Australians who have higher incomes and greater wealth are more likely to experience better mental health throughout their lives, new research led by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has found.

Study suggests biological basis for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances in older adults

October 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.