June 4, 2008

Economy and Money Top Causes of Stress for Americans

Psychologists recommend staying calm in uncertain times

WASHINGTON-- As talk of falling housing prices, rising consumer debt and declining retail sales bring up worries about the nation's economic health, the American Psychological Association (APA) finds that many Americans are stressed and anxious about their financial future. An APA poll on the causes of stress reports that two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans identify the economy as a significant source of stress in their lives. Three-quarters (75 percent) are stressed by money and more than one in two report that housing costs are causing them stress (56 percent). In addition, almost one half of Americans (48 percent) report that job stability is a significant cause of stress.

The poll, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive® between April 7 and 15, 2008, among 2,529 adults, also finds that work (62 percent), family responsibilities (61 percent) and health concerns (57-59 percent) are significant causes of stress for a majority of Americans. This mid-year interim poll precedes APA's larger annual Stress in America survey, which is released each fall.

"With higher prices in the stores, the rising cost of gas and constant media coverage of the state of the economy, many Americans are stressed about the state of their finances" says psychologist Katherine Nordal, Ph.D., executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association. "For some people, uncertainty about their financial future can trigger uncomfortable levels of anxiety."

Dr. Nordal recommends taking stock of your situation and developing a plan to move forward.

"Use this time as an opportunity to make needed changes," says Dr. Nordal. "Analyze your priorities and figure out new ways to manage your stress, and take control of your finances. Pause but don't panic - remain calm, stay focused and avoid getting caught up in the doom-and-gloom hype in the media."

  For more tips on managing stress visit the APA Help Center.

Methodology

This study was conducted online within the United States between April 7 and 15, 2008, among 2,529 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error that are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with non-response, error associated with question wording and response options and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100 percent response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association