The State Of America's Stress

Who's the most stressed? A new study might just have the answer.

The findings, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, shows that stress levels have increased by 10 to 30 percent among all different demographic groups in the U.S. between 1983 and 2009. However, Carnegie Mellon University researchers also found that stress decreased as people got older, with retirees reporting low stress.

"We know that stress contributes to poorer health practices, increased risk for disease, accelerated disease progression and increased mortality," study researcher Sheldon Cohen, a psychology professor at CMU, said in a statement. "Differences in stress between demographics may be important markers of populations under increased risk for physical and psychological disorders."

The study included examinations of stress at three specific points in time: 1983, 2006 and 2009. The researchers looked at all sorts of different demographic information, including gender, age, employment, race, education and income, to see if there were changes in stress among these groups over the 26-year period. The study was based on phone interviews of 2,387 adults, as well as online responses from 4,000 adults.

The researchers found that women, people with less education and people with low incomes reported more stress at all three time points than other demographics.

In addition, researchers found that particularly during the 2006 and 2009 timepoints -- when the economic downturn was occurring -- there were increased reports of stress among college-educated, employed, white, middle-aged men.

And while researchers did find that stress levels have increased between the start and end of the study, "it's hard to say if people are more stressed now than before because the first survey was conducted by phone and the last two were done online," Cohen said in the satement. "But, it's clear that stress is still very much present in Americans' lives, putting them at greater risk for many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders."

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