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Across the U.S., Stress Varies by Region
Date:4/14/2009

CDC surveys find more relaxed people in Hawaii, fewer in Kentucky, W. Va.,,,,

TUESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Life in America is getting more stressful, especially if you live in the Appalachian or Mississippi Valley regions.

Almost 10 percent of some 1.2 million people surveyed annually by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2003 to 2006 reported having frequent mental distress, defined as 14 or more days a month of feeling depressed, stressed or having emotional problems.

That was up 1 percentage point from the CDC surveys conducted from 1993 to 2001. The findings appear in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

But some states seem to be faring decidedly worse than others.

West Virginia had the highest percentage of residents, 14.9 percent, who reported frequent mental distress in the 2003-2006 survey. Kentucky had 14.4 percent.

In Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia, incidence of frequent mental distress rose by 4 percentage points between the first and second surveys. Other states with higher than average rates included Alabama, Arkansas and Indiana.

Given the current state of the economy, the 2008 statistics, which are not yet compiled, will probably show ever worsening levels of mental distress, said lead investigator Dr. Matthew Zack, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC.

"I would predict that some areas not affected in this study may become affected, in part because of job losses or unemployment," Zack said.

Despite brutal weather, one region that seems to be weathering the stress storm is the upper Midwest region, including North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana, Wisconsin and Illinois, where fewer than 8 percent of residents reported frequent mental distress.

And in a finding that should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited its pristine beaches
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