America's national anxiety score rose 5 points in the last year
The survey asked respondents to rate their anxiety levels in five areas: safety, health, finances, relationships and politics.
A common thread runs through all groups in modern America: anxiety.
According to a new survey from the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Americans are feeling, in general, more anxious than they were in 2017. The survey asked 1,004 adults from around the country to rate their anxiety in five areas: safety, health, finances, relationships, and politics. Results showed:
- 39% feel more anxious now compared to last year.
- ~68% feel extremely or somewhat anxious about their health, keeping their family safe, and paying bills on time.
- 56% feel extremely or somewhat anxious about the impact of politics on their daily lives.
Source: APA 2018 poll.
The national anxiety score
It all amounted to a five-point increase in the country’s “national anxiety score,” which is scored from 0-100, and rose from 46 in 2017 to 51 in 2018. All groups in the survey reported year-over-year increases in anxiety, but not equally across race, gender, or age. Results showed:
- Millennials feel the most anxious, though baby boomers reported the highest increase in anxiety
- Women reported a higher increase in anxiety than men; among adults younger than 50, 38% of men and 57% of women feel more anxious now compared to last year.
- The above gender-split is also true among people older than 50 but older people, in general, reported lower increases in anxiety: 24% of men and 39% of women.
- People of color feel more anxious than Caucasians by 11 points.
The survey also asked about attitudes on the issues of mental health, prescription drug abuse, and gun violence.
- 31% know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers.
- 9% have taken an opioid or prescription painkiller without a prescription.
- 19% said it’d be “extremely easy” for someone in their community to access a large amount of opioids or prescription painkillers without needing them for a medical purpose.
“Our poll findings show that Americans are increasingly aware of the problem of opioid addiction and increasingly believe people can recover,” said APA CEO and medical director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “The crisis has become personal to many and they want to see treatment available for those affected. We are ready to work with the Administration and Congress to curb this national epidemic.”
- 86% strongly or somewhat agree mental health impacts physical health.
- 81% strongly or somewhat agree to the statement: “I know how to access mental health care if I need it.”
- 33% think Congress considers mental health “somewhat less of a priority.”
- ~86% (~76% percent of Republicans and ~96% of Democrats) strongly or somewhat agree gun violence is a public health threat, and Congress should do more to address it.
- 50% report easy access to assault weapons and lack of access to mental health services as equally to blame for recent mass shootings.
- 76% support increasing the abilities of the CDC to conduct research on gun violence.
The APA suggested a few ways Americans can alleviate anxiety.
“This poll shows U.S. adults are increasingly anxious particularly about health, safety and finances. That increased stress and anxiety can significantly impact many aspects of people’s lives, including their mental health, and it can affect families,” said APA President Anita Everett, M.D. “It highlights the need to help reduce the effects of stress with regular exercise, relaxation, healthy eating and time with friends and family.”
A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.
- How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
- To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
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