Money problems — ranging from medical cost burdens to student debt — continue to be the top source of stress for most Americans, with 72 percent of adults saying they fretted about their finances in the past month, according to an annual survey.
The new "Stress in America" survey from the American Psychological Association
(APA) shows that money worries are weighing on Americans' health. Parents, women, younger generations and lower-income households were among the groups found to be suffering from the highest stress levels.
It's not the first time finances have been at the top of Americans' worry chain. APA CEO Norman Anderson said money has been first in the survey's stress list since 2007.
"Furthermore, this year's survey shows that stress related to financial issues could have a significant impact on Americans' health and well-being," he said.
Of the 3,068 adults surveyed, 22 percent of respondents said that they experienced extreme stress about money during the past month. For the majority of Americans (64 percent), money is a somewhat or very significant source of stress, but especially for parents (77 percent), millennials aged 18 to 35 years old (75 percent) and Gen Xers aged 36 to 49 years old (76 percent).
The survey found a widening gap in stress levels between lower-income and higher-income households. On a 10-point scale, those making less than $50,000 annually recorded a 5.2 point stress level, while those making more than that came in an at 4.7 points on average.
The report said some Americans are "putting their healthcare needs on hold" because of money concerns. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans say that they have either considered skipping (9 percent) or skipped (12 percent) going to the doctor when they needed healthcare because of financial concerns.
There was also a glimmer of good news in the findings. The average reported stress level for all adult Americans was 4.9 points on a 10-point scale, down from 6.2 points in 2007.
"Despite the good news that overall stress levels are down, it appears that the idea of living with stress higher than what we believe to be healthy and dealing with it in ineffective ways continues to be embedded in our culture," Anderson said.
"All Americans, and particularly those groups that are most affected by stress — which include women, younger adults and those with lower incomes — need to address this issue sooner than later in order to better their health and well-being."
In a separate study, Ameriprise Financial
said a survey of Baby Boomers found that health and emotional preparation are the keys to a successful retirement.
The poll of 1,000 new retirees who had at least $100,000 in investable assets, found a majority experienced challenges adapting to the change in their lives, with the hardest aspects being loss of connections with colleagues (37 percent), getting used to a different routine (32 percent) or finding purposeful ways to pass the time (22 percent).
"Stress appears to be a natural emotion leading up to retirement, even for those who are overwhelmingly happy now that they've left the workforce," Ameriprise concluded in its "Retirement Triggers" study.
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the newly retired boomers said they felt stressed about retirement leading up to the decision, but only 25 percent said they still felt stress now that they've been retired for some time.
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