CREDIT: Stressed businessman via Shutterstock
Work, money and the economy are the biggest causes of Americans' stress, according to a recent survey.
The findings from the American Psychological Association (APA) also suggest the majority of Americans don't realize the impact of stress on their overall physical and psychological health.
The good news is that the percentage of Americans who report feeling extreme stress dropped to 22 percent in 2011, from 32 percent in 2007, when the APA conducted its first Stress in America survey.
And on a scale of 1 to 10, the average rating for stress in 2011 fell to 5.2, the lowest level in five years (it was 5.4 in 2009 and 2010; 5.9 in 2008; and 6.2 in 2007). Extreme stress was likely highest in 2007 because that was the start of the economic downturn, the researchers said.
The bad news from APA's latest data is also noteworthy: A significant number of respondents reported that stress has only a slight or no impact on their physical health (31 percent) or on their mental health (36 percent).
But stress is a proven precursor of many chronic conditions, such as depression and cardiovascular disease, and often makes existing illnesses worse, said Norman Anderson, chief executive officer of the APA.
"Seventy-five percent of health-care costs are associated with chronic illnesses," Anderson said. "What's a key driver of chronic illnesses? Stress."
Anderson said that most Americans don't see a connection between stress and their overall health.
Most common stress causes
According to the APA's research, money and work are the two most common causes of stress among Americans. Seventy-five percent of respondents said money was a cause of their stress, while 70 percent said work was a cause of their stress.
The economy, relationships, family responsibilities and health, respectively, were cited as the next most common causes of stress. Being a caregiver is also a significant source of stress for many Americans.
The survey also found that caregivers and younger Americans are experiencing higher levels of stress, while East Coast dwellers reported they have a slightly more difficult time managing their stress levels.
This story was provided by BusinessNewsDaily, a sister site to MyHealthNewsDaily.