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Study: US Political Climate Leading to Stress

  • VOA News

FILE - A study suggests the political climate in the U.S. is causing stress for some. (Photo by Flickr user Keirsten Marie via Creative Commons license)

FILE - A study suggests the political climate in the U.S. is causing stress for some. (Photo by Flickr user Keirsten Marie via Creative Commons license)

The political climate in the United States is stressing out Americans, according to a new study.

Researchers from the American Psychological Association found that 57 percent of Americans say the “current political climate is a very or somewhat significant source of stress,” according to a poll done in January.

Nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, say the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was also a source of stress, but there were differences depending on which party those polled belonged to.

For Democrats, 72 percent said the outcome was stressful, while 26 percent of Republicans said the same. When asked about the future of the country, 59 percent of Republicans said they were stressed, with 76 percent of Democrats reporting the same.

"The stress we're seeing around political issues is deeply concerning, because it's hard for Americans to get away from it," said Katherine Nordal, APA's executive director for professional practice. "We're surrounded by conversations, news and social media that constantly remind us of the issues that are stressing us the most."

The new poll was done after the APA found last year that the election was causing stress for 52 percent of Americans.

The January survey found that the percentage of Americans reporting that acts of terrorism were a source of stress rose from 51 to 59 percent from a few months earlier. The survey also found increases in the percentage of Americans who were stressed by police violence and personal safety.

Education also plays a role in how stressed Americans are, according to the APA. For example, 53 percent of those with more than a high school education reported stress caused by the election outcome. That compares to 38 percent for those with a high school education or less.

Geographic location also appears to have played a role, with 62 percent of those in urban areas reporting stress, compared to 45 percent in the suburbs and 33 percent in rural areas.

The increased stress may be causing health problems, the APA says, citing those who reported a stress-related health symptom rose from 71 percent to 80 percent. Those issues include headaches, anxiety and depression.

"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.

The APA recommends those experiencing stress related to the election and the political climate should perhaps take a break from the news and do something else.

"Read enough to stay informed but then plan activities that give you a regular break from the issues and the stress they might cause. And remember to take care of yourself and pay attention to other areas of your life," Nordal said.

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