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Young Adults Are America's Most Stressed Generation: Survey

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Young Americans between 18 and 33 years old -- the so-called millennials -- are more stressed than the rest of the population, according to a new report from the American Psychological Association.

What's stressing them out? Jobs and money mostly, said Norman Anderson, CEO of the American Psychological Association, during a Thursday morning press conference.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the millennial generation stands at 5.4 stress-wise, significantly higher than the national average of 4.9, the association found after surveying more than 2,000 Americans.

"Clearly there are a number of pressures facing young people that might account for this increase in stress," Anderson said. "These individuals are growing up in an era of unprecedented economic upheaval. This coincides with the time they are finishing school and trying to establish themselves in society."

Getting a job, starting a family and repaying student loans are all stressful, he added. "They have great difficulty finding jobs because of the higher unemployment and underemployment rates," Anderson said.

These young adults also don't feel they're getting support from the health system. Only 25 percent of millennials give the health care system an A grade, compared with 32 percent of the rest of the population, according to the report, Stress in America: Missing the Health Care Connection.

In addition, 49 percent said they aren't managing their stress well, and only 23 percent think their doctor helps them make healthy lifestyle and behavior changes "a lot or a great deal." Only 17 percent think their doctor helps them manage their stress.

"When people receive professional help to manage stress and make healthy behavior changes, they do better at achieving their health goals," Anderson said.

On that measure, the United States falls short, he said. To lower the rates of chronic illnesses and reduce the nation's health costs, "we need to improve how we view and treat stress and unhealthy behaviors that are contributing to the high incidence of disease in the United States."

Those who get support for stress from their doctor fare much better than those who don't, the researchers said.

People suffering from chronic illnesses report even less support for stress and lifestyle management than Americans without a chronic condition, according to the survey.

Despite seeing their doctor more often than most people, only 25 percent of those with a chronic illness say they get "a great deal or a lot" of stress management support from their doctor. And 41 percent of these chronically ill people said their stress level had increased in the past year, the researchers found.

The disconnect between what people need to manage stress and what the health care system delivers is evident at all ages, the survey found.

For example, 32 percent of respondents said it is extremely important to talk with their doctor about stress management, but only 17 percent said that happens often or always.

Fifty-three percent said they get little or no help with stress management from their doctor, and 39 percent said they have little or no support for other lifestyle issues. Those who felt unsupported were more likely than others to say their stress had increased during the previous year.

This problem is worse for the 20 percent of Americans who consider themselves extremely stressed, the researchers said. Among these people, 69 percent say their stress increased in the past year. Thirty-three percent, however, never discussed their increasing stress with their doctor, according to the report.

The report did find that many people know that controlling stress is important for good health. But for more than one-third of Americans, stress levels are on the rise, they noted.

More information

For more information on stress, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Feb. 7, 2013, press conference with Norman Anderson, Ph.D., CEO, American Psychological Association; Feb. 7, 2013, report, Stress in America: Missing the Health Care Connection

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