Within the past year, anxiety among Americans has increased substantially, particularly around the issue of paying bills, according to a national poll recently released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
On a scale of 1 to 100, this year’s overall national anxiety score is 51 — a five-point jump since 2017. Higher anxiety scores were seen across several age groups, across people of different races and ethnicities, and among men and women.
Survey respondents rated their anxiety levels in five different areas of life: health, safety, finances, relationships and politics. While the poll shows that more Americans are experiencing greater anxiety in all five areas (health, safety, finances, relationships and politics) than last year, the greatest anxiety increase was about paying bills. Nearly 75 percent of women, nearly 75 percent of young adults (18 – 34) and nearly 80 percent of Hispanic adults are somewhat or extremely anxious about paying their bills.
By generation, millennials continued to be more anxious than Gen Xers or baby boomers; however, anxiety among baby boomers showed the sharpest increase with a seven-point jump between 2017 and 2018.
Overall, women are more anxious than men, and also had a greater increase in anxiety than men between 2017 to 2018. When asked to compare their anxiety to the previous year, more than half (57 percent) of women 18-49 years reported being more anxious, compared to 38 percent of men the same age.
Older generations also see this gender difference – 39 percent of women 50 and older and 24 percent of men 50 and older say they are more anxious now than this time last year. Overall, nearly four in 10 people (39 percent) say they are more anxious than they were last year.
Other findings from the poll: People of color are more anxious than Caucasians (11 points higher on the anxiety index); Americans expressed nearly equal concerns about health, safety and paying bills, with somewhat less concern about politics and relationships; people with Medicaid are more anxious than those with private insurance.
“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.”
The survey also asked participants about their attitudes and perceptions of mental health and treatment. The findings show that a strong majority of Americans believe a person’s mental health impacts their physical health (86 percent, up from 80 percent in 2017).
In addition, 75 percent of Americans say untreated mental illness has a significant impact on the U.S. economy. Around half say there is less stigma against people with mental illness than there was 10 years ago. However, more than one-third say they would not vote for a candidate for public office who had been diagnosed with a mental illness, even if the candidate received treatment.
Source: American Psychiatric Association