Elizabeth Solomon, 31, has two master’s degrees and carries close to $150,000 in student loan debt. She moved back into her parents’ house less than two years after graduation while she looks for work.
Stress levels for Americans have taken a decidedly downward turn across the USA — except for young adults, whose stress is higher than the national norm, says a survey to be released Thursday.
Those ages 18-33 — the Millennial generation — are plenty stressed, and it’s not letting up: 39% say their stress has increased in the past year; 52% say stress has kept them awake at night in the past month. And more than any other age group, they report being told by a health care provider that they have either depression or an anxiety disorder.
The online survey of 2,020 U.S. adults 18 and older, conducted in August by Harris Interactive for the American Psychological Association, has been taking the stress pulse of Americans since 2007.
On a 10-point scale, where 1 means “little or no stress” and 10 means “a great deal of stress,” the 2012 average is 4.9.
But for Millennials, it’s 5.4.
“Younger people do tend to be more stressed than older people do. It may be they are more willing to admit to it. It may be a phase of life. They just don’t know where they’re going in life,” says Mike Hais of Arcadia, Calif., a market researcher and co-author of two books on that generation, including 2011′s Millennial Momentum.
But for this group, there is more cause for worry, Hais says.
“Millennials are growing up at a tough time. They were sheltered in many ways, with a lot of high expectations for what they should achieve. Individual failure is difficult to accept when confronted with a sense you’re an important person and expected to achieve. Even though, in most instances, it’s not their fault — the economy collapsed just as many of them were getting out of college and coming of age — that does lead to a greater sense of stress,” he says.
Overall, the survey finds that 20% of Americans report extreme stress, which is an 8, 9 or 10 on the stress scale. Still, the extreme-stress report has declined since 2010, when the number was 24%. Also on the decline are unhealthy coping behaviors. Since 2008, eating to manage stress dropped from 34% to 25% in 2012. And drinking alcohol as a stress reliever dipped from 18% to 13%.
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