“The difficulty in science is often not so much how to make the discovery but rather to know that one has made it.” – J.D. Bernal
2022 Stress Statistics
Two years after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, inflation, money issues and the war in Ukraine have pushed U.S. stress to alarming levels, according to polls conducted for the American Psychological Association.
A late-breaking poll, fielded March 1-3 by The Harris Poll on behalf of APA, revealed striking findings, with more adults rating inflation and issues related to the invasion of Ukraine as stressors than any other issue asked about in the 15-year history of the Stress in AmericaTM poll. This comes on top of money stress at the highest recorded level since 2015, according to a broader Stress in America poll fielded last month.
Top sources of stress were the rise in prices of everyday items due to inflation (e.g., gas prices, energy bills, grocery costs, etc.) (cited by 87%), followed by supply chain issues (81%), global uncertainty (81%), Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (80%) and potential retaliation from Russia (e.g., in the form of cyberattacks or nuclear threats) (80%).
Adults also reported separation and conflict as causes for straining and/or ending of relationships. Half of adults (51%, particularly essential workers at 61%) said they have loved ones they have not been able to see in person in the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strikingly, more than half of all U.S. adults (58%) reported experiencing a relationship strain or end as a result of conflicts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including canceling events or gatherings due to COVID-19 concerns (29%); difference of opinion over some aspect of vaccines (25%); different views of the pandemic overall (25%); and difference of opinion over mask-wearing (24%).
Key Stress Statistics
Americans are one of the most stressed out in the world. The current stress level experienced by Americans is 20 percentage points higher than the global average. The country’s rate is similar to Louisiana’s, the most stressed state. Globally, Greece has the highest reported stress level at 59%.
- 55% of Americans are stressed during the day.
- The global average of the number of stressed people out of 143 countries is 35%.
- Paraguay is the country with the highest positive experience index.
- Afghanistan is the least positive country in the world with a positive experience index of 43% lower than its score in the previous year.
- Stress causes 57% of US respondents to feel paralyzed.
- 63% of US workers are ready to quit their job to avoid work-related stress.
- Chronic stress is commonplace at work with 94% of workers reporting feeling stress at work.
- 59% of Greeks have reported experiencing stress in the previous day.
- Montana is the least stressed US state with a total stress score of 26.81 while Louisiana the most stressed with 59.94.
Causes and Sources of Stress
Living conditions, the political climate, financial insecurity, and work issues are some stressors US adults cite as the cause of their stress. Ineffective communications increase work stress to the point of frustration that workers want to quit. These stressors, unfortunately, are not something people can just ignore. Quitting a job would result in debt and financial instability which, in turn, would be added stressors.
- 35% of workers say their boss is a cause of their workplace stress.
- 80% of US workers experience work stress because of ineffective company communications.
- 39% of North American employees report their workload the main source of the work stress.
- 49% of 18 – 24 year olds who report high levels of stress felt comparing themselves to others is a stressor.
- 71% of US adults with private health insurance say the cost of healthcare causes them stress while 53% with public insurance say the same.
- 54% of Americans want to stay informed about the news but following the news causes them stress.
- 42% of US adults cite personal debt as a source of significant stress.
- 1 in 4 American adults say discrimination is a significant source of stress.
- Mass shootings are a significant source of stress across all races; 84% of Hispanic report this, the highest among the races.
Stress and Relationships
People under stress admit to taking out their frustration on other people. Targets for venting out include strangers and those they have personal relationships with. Men and women report different levels of how work stress affects their relationships with their spouses.
- 76% of US workers say their workplace stress has had a negative impact on their personal relationships.
- Seven in 10 adults report work stress affects their personal relationships.
- 79% of men report work stress affects their personal relationship with their spouse compared to 61% for women.
- 36% of adults reported experiencing stress caused by a friend or loved one’s long-term health condition.
Stress Management Statistics
A look at the stress management techniques employed by US adults to deal with their stress, an overwhelming majority are self-care practices. Though very helpful, it does not address the stressor at the root of the problem. Stress management programs would be beneficial not only for employees but for the company in the long run.
- 30% of Us adults eat comfort food “more than the usual” when faced with a challenging or stressful event.
- 51% of US adults engage in prayer—a routine activity—when faced with a challenge or stressful situation.
- Coping mechanisms of Gen Z and Millenials experiencing stress in the US 44% of Gen Z and 40% of Millenials sleep in while exercising counts for 14% and 20% respectively.
- 49% of US adults report enduring stressful situations as a coping behavior to handle stress.
- Less than 25% of those with depression worldwide have access to mental health treatments.
Cardiac Coherence and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Combat Veterans
Jay P. Ginsberg, Ph.D.; Melanie E. Berry, M.S.; Donald A Powell, Ph.D.
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, A Peer-Reviewed Journal, 2010;16 (4):52-60.
PDF version of the complete paper: Cardiac Coherence and PTSD in Combat Veterans
Background: The need for treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among combat veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq is a growing concern. PTSD has been associated with reduced cardiac coherence (an indicator of heart rate variability [HRV]) and deficits in early-stage information processing (attention and immediate memory) in different studies. However, the co-occurrence of reduced coherence and cognition in combat veterans with PTSD has not been studied before.
Primary Study Objective: A pilot study was undertaken to assess the covariance of coherence and information processing in combat veterans. An additional study goal was an assessment of the effects of HRV biofeedback (HRVB) on coherence and information processing in these veterans.
Methods/Design: A two-group (combat veterans with and without PTSD), a pre-post study of coherence and information processing was employed with baseline psychometric covariates.
Setting: The study was conducted at a VA Medical Center outpatient mental health clinic.
Participants: Five combat veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan with PTSD and five active-duty soldiers with comparable combat exposure who were without PTSD.
Intervention: Participants met with an HRVB professional once weekly for 4 weeks and received visual feedback in HRV patterns while receiving training in resonance frequency breathing and positive emotion induction.
Primary Outcome Measures: Cardiac coherence, word list learning, commissions (false alarms) in go—no go reaction time, digits backward.
Results: Cardiac coherence was achieved in all participants, and the increase in coherence ratio was significant post-HRVB training. Significant improvements in the information processing indicators were achieved. Degree of increase in coherence was the likely mediator of cognitive improvement.
Conclusion: Cardiac coherence is an index of the strength of control of parasympathetic cardiac deceleration in an individual that has cardinal importance for the individual’s attention and affect regulation.
The Effect of a Biofeedback-based Stress Management Tool on Physician Stress: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial
Jane B. Lemaire, Jean E. Wallace, Adriane M. Lewin, Jill de Grood, Jeffrey P. Schaefer
Open Medicine 2011; 5(4)E154.
PDF version of the complete paper: physician-stress-randomized-controlled-clinical-trial
Abstract- Biofeedback-based Stress Management
Background: Physicians often experience work-related stress that may lead to personal harm and impaired professional performance. Biofeedback has been used to manage stress in various populations.
Objective: To determine whether a biofeedback-based stress management tool, consisting of rhythmic breathing, actively self-generated positive emotions and a portable biofeedback device, reduces physician stress.
Design: Randomized controlled trial measuring the efficacy of a stress-reduction intervention over 28 days, with a 28-day open-label trial extension to assess effectiveness.
Setting: Urban tertiary care hospital.
Participants: Forty staff physicians (23 men and 17 women) from various medical practices (1 from primary care, 30 from a medical specialty and 9 from a surgical specialty) were recruited by means of electronic mail, regular mail and posters placed in the physicians’ lounge and throughout the hospital.
Intervention: Physicians in the intervention group were instructed to use a biofeedback-based stress management tool three times daily. Participants in both the control and intervention groups received twice-weekly support visits from the research team over 28 days, with the intervention group also receiving re-inforcement in the use of the stress management tool during these support visits. During the 28-day extension period, both the control and the intervention groups received the intervention, but without intensive support from the research team.
Main outcome measure: Stress was measured with a scale developed to capture short-term changes in global perceptions of stress for physicians (maximum score 200).
Results: During the randomized controlled trial (days 0 to 28), the mean stress score declined significantly for the intervention group (change -14.7, standard deviation [SD] 23.8; p = 0.013) but not for the control group (change -2.2, SD 8.4; p = 0.30). The difference in mean score change between the groups was 12.5 (p = 0.048). The lower mean stress scores in the intervention group were maintained during the trial extension to day 56. The mean stress score for the control group changed significantly during the 28-day extension period (change -8.5, SD 7.6; p < 0.001).
Conclusion: A biofeedback-based stress management tool may be a simple and effective stress-reduction strategy for physicians.
Coherence Training In Children With Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Cognitive Functions and Behavioral Changes
Anthony Lloyd, Ph.D.; Davide Brett, B.Sc.; Ketith Wesnes, Ph.D.
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, A Peer-Reviewed Journal, 2010; 16 (4):34-42
PDF version of the complete paper: coherence-training-in-children-with-adhd
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most prevalent behavioral diagnosis in children, with an estimated 500 000 children affected in the United Kingdom alone. The need for an appropriate and effective intervention for children with ADHD is a growing concern for educators and childcare agencies. This randomized controlled clinical trial evaluated the impact of the HeartMath self-regulation skills and coherence training program (Institute of HeartMath, Boulder Creek, California) on a population of 38 children with ADHD in academic year groups 6, 7, and 8. Learning of the skills was supported with heart rhythm coherence monitoring and feedback technology designed to facilitate self-induced shifts in cardiac coherence. The cognitive drug research system was used to assess cognitive functioning as the primary outcome measure. Secondary outcome measures assessed teacher and student reposted changes in behavior. Participants demonstrated significant improvements in various aspects of cognitive functioning such as delayed word recall, immediate word recall, word recognition, and episodic secondary memory. Significant improvements in behavior were also found. The results suggest that the intervention offers a physiologically based program to improve cognitive functioning in children with ADHD and improve behaviors that is appropriate to implement in a school environment.
Coherence and Health Care Cost – RCA Actuarial Study: A Cost-Effectiveness Cohort Study
Woody Bedell; Mariette Kaszkin-Bettag, Ph.D.
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, A Peer-Reviewed Journal, 2010;16 (4):26-31.
PDF version of the complete paper: rca-actuarial-study-coherence-and-health-care
Abstract-Health and Medicine
Chronic stress is among the most costly health problems in terms of direct health costs, absenteeism, disability, and performance standards. The Reformed Church in America (RCA) identified stress among its clergy as a major cause of higher-than-average health claims and implemented HeartMath (HM) to help its participants manage stress and increase physiological resilience. The 6-week HM program Revitalize You! was selected for the intervention including the emWave Personal Stress Reliever technology.
From 2006 to 2007, completion of a health risk assessment (HRA) provided eligible clergy with the opportunity to participate in the HM program or a lifestyle management program (LSM). Outcomes for that year were assessed with the Stress and Well-being Survey. Of 313 participants who completed the survey, 149 completed the Revitalize You! The program and 164 completed the LSM. Well-being, stress management, resilience, and emotional vitality were significantly improved in the HM group as compared to the LSM group.
In an analysis of the claims costs data for 2007 and 2008, 144 pastors who had participated in the HM program were compared to 343 non-participants (control group). Adjusted medical costs were reduced by 3.8% for HM participants in comparison with an increase of 9.0% for the control group. For the adjusted pharmacy costs, an increase of 7.9% was found compared with an increase of 13.3% for the control group. Total 2008 savings as a result of the HM program are estimated at $585 per participant, yielding a return on investment of 1.95:1. These findings show that HM stress-reduction and coherence-building techniques can reduce health care costs.