Americans have been taking to the streets in record numbers since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, but amid that uptick in resistance something else has been rising within the USA electorate: personal anxiety and stress caused by the nation's new political reality.
The survey found that 66 percent of Americans reported stress about the future of the country.
Between August 2016 and January 2017, the overall average stress levels of Americans rose from 4.8 to 5.1, on a scale where 1 means little to no stress and 10 means a great deal of stress. In the APA's most recent survey, politics jumped up on the list: Fifty-seven percent of people experienced stress thinking about the political climate of the country, and 49 percent were stressed out about the election's outcome.
"The stress we're seeing around political issues is deeply concerning, because it's hard for Americans to get away from it", said Katherine C. Nordal, APA's executive director for professional practice.
Still, 59 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats agreed that the future of the nation was a significant source of stress. Minority groups, millennials, those living in urban areas, and those with a college education had higher levels of stress about the election, which is unsurprising since those demographics tend to lean left politically. The percentage of people citing health symptoms due to stress rose from 71% to 80% in five months.
"It's not just about who won the election".
"While these common health symptoms might seem minor, they can lead to negative effects on daily life and overall physical health when they continue over a long period", said Nordal. "And while it's really important to stay informed right now, there's a point where you have to know your limits; there's a saturation point where there isn't new information". Most people didn't need that information at 11 p.m.; nothing would have changed if they'd waited until morning to hear that news.
In order to avoid elevated stress levels, researchers recommend turning off the TV and taking up hobbies or spending more time with family. Also, mental health experts working with veterans in VA hospitals reported their patients making comments such as "I did not risk my life for this", according to a member of APA's Stress in America team and a licensed psychologist, Vaile Wright.