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7/2/2003

80 Percent of Americans Feel Stressed

Kate Traynor

A National Consumers League (NCL) survey found that most adults in this country consider themselves stressed, and that stress levels are higher now than one or five years ago.

In a telephone survey of 1,074 adults, 80 percent said that stress is a problem in their lives. People who reported feeling troubled by stress named work as the biggest contributor to the problem, affecting 39 percent of this group. Family issues, the next most frequent cause of stress, were cited by 30 percent of interviewees affected by stress.

Sixty-three percent of the survey respondents who described their lives as stressful or problematic said that their stress level is higher than fiver years ago. Sixty percent said that stress levels have intensified over the past year.

Among survey respondents who said their lives are stressful:

  • Seventy-four percent are worried about their health and that of family members, 
  • Seventy percent are worried about their family's finances, 
  • Fifty-eight percent said they get too little sleep, and 
  • Forty-one percent described themselves as burned out and overloaded with work.

A portion of the survey, which was funded through an unrestricted educational grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb, addressed stress-related tension headaches. According to NCL, 61 percent of the adults who were troubled by stress reported suffering tension headaches, and 41 percent of these people said the headaches interfered with their daily lives.

According to the survey, 63 percent of headache sufferers sought relief by resting or taking a break. Forty-eight percent used a nonprescription drug to treat headache symptoms, 28 percent used a prescription medication, 15 percent relied on herbal remedies, and 10 percent used a dietary supplement.

The NCL Web site offers advice on dealing with stress and stress-related symptoms. Suggested stress relievers include engaging in exercise, particularly aerobic activity; stretching and practicing yoga; discussing problems with someone you trust; and taking a break to temporarily remove yourself from a stressful situation. NCL suggests that people with unrelenting stress seek medical or other professional help to deal with the situation.