‘Stress in America’ Survey Shows Record Stress Levels

Crowd gathered outside the White House, red flowerbed in foregroundAmericans are the most stressed they have been since the birth of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) “Stress in America” survey. The annual survey began in 2007. This year’s survey suggests Americans across political affiliations feel concerned about the future of the nation, money, and work.

Americans: More Stressed Than Ever

Harris Poll conducted the survey between August 2 and 31, 2017. The poll asked 3,440 United States residents about their experience with stress. It included 2,047 women and 1,376 men. Most participants (1,888) were white. 810 were Hispanic, 808 were black, 506 were Asian, and 206 were Native American.

The survey asked participants to rank their stress levels on a scale of 1-10. As with previous years, it found a gender and racial gap. Women reported higher stress levels than men, and their overall stress level rose slightly, from 5.0 in 2016 to 5.1 in 2017. Men’s stress levels dropped.

White Americans reported an overall stress level of 4.7, which is the same as in 2016. Hispanic Americans reported higher stress levels of 5.2, while the stress level for black Americans rose from 4.7 to 5.0. Fifty-six percent of Hispanics reported lying awake at night due to stress. Asians were the least likely to report this symptom, with 42% experiencing stress-related difficulties.

The Effects of Political Stress on Mental Health

The nation’s political climate figured prominently in respondents’ stress levels, with the future of the nation being the most frequently cited source of stress at 63%. Sixty-two percent of respondents worried about money, and 61% worried about work. Fifty-nine percent said this is the lowest point of U.S. history they can remember. This figure includes people who survived other difficult times in history, including World War II and the Vietnam War.

Political divisions are a significant source of stress, with 59% of respondents citing divisiveness as an issue. Democrats (73%) were more likely than Republicans (56%) and independents (59%) to say they worry about the future of the country. The political issues people most frequently reported worrying about included:

  • Health care (43%)
  • The economy (35%)
  • Trust in government (32%)
  • Hate crimes (31%)
  • Crime (31%)
  • Wars and conflicts with other nations (30%)
  • Terrorism in the United States (30%)
  • Low wages and unemployment (22%)
  • Climate change and the environment (21%)

Most respondents (95%) reported following the news, but 56% said that doing so causes them stress.

Political Stress as a Source of Inspiration

Though the survey paints a grim picture of Americans’ mental health and hope for the future, it also uncovered a commitment to improving the nation. Fifty-one percent said that concerns about the nation inspired them to support various causes or volunteer, and 59% percent reported taking action in the last year, such as by signing a petition or boycotting a company.

The APA cautions that it cannot estimate the role of sampling or theoretical errors, since the survey is based on the voluntary participation of people invited to answer poll questions.


  1. APA Stress in America™ Survey: US at ‘Lowest point we can remember;’ future of nation most commonly reported source of stress. (2017, November 1). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/11/lowest-point.aspx

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  • Leave a Comment
  • ned

    November 13th, 2017 at 2:24 PM

    There are days when I feel like my house is ground zero

  • Lowell

    November 14th, 2017 at 8:39 AM

    Given how divided the country is as a whole it is no wonder to me that we are feeling record stress levels. I think that it is also important to note however that we are still Americans and regardless of how we feel politically this too shall pass. We will get to a brighter side eventually and then the other side can start to feel all stressed out. It’s all about balance. lol

  • Josephine

    November 15th, 2017 at 3:01 PM

    No I don’t think that when anyone does a survey to get the happiest nation in the world anyone would ever think that the US would be on top.
    I think that we have become much too high maintenance and demanding, letting ourselves live with as little peace and relaxation as we can possibly stand.
    I don’t think that this is doing any of us any favors with either longevity or our happiness levels.

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