Search
Close this search box.

Stress in Adults

American Adults Express Increasing Anxiousness in Annual Poll; Stress and Sleep are Key Factors Impacting Mental Health

Increasing Anxiety Among U.S. Adults: Key Findings from the 2024 APA Annual Mental Health Poll

The 2024 results of the American Psychiatric Association’s annual mental health poll indicate a growing sense of anxiety among U.S. adults. In 2024, 43% of adults reported feeling more anxious than the previous year, up from 37% in 2023 and 32% in 2022. The primary sources of this anxiety include current events (70%), the economy (77%), the 2024 U.S. election (73%), and gun violence (69%).

Impact of Lifestyle Factors on Mental Health

When asked about lifestyle factors affecting mental health, adults identified stress (53%) and sleep (40%) as having the most significant impact. Younger adults (18-34 years old) are more likely than older adults (50+) to say that social connection has the biggest impact on their mental health. Despite increasing anxiety levels, the majority of adults have not sought professional mental health support, with only 24% of adults reporting that they talked with a mental health care professional in the past year. Younger adults are more than twice as likely as older adults to have sought such support.

Seeking Mental Health Support

“Living in a world of constant news of global and local turmoil, some anxiety is natural and expected,” said APA President Petros Levounis, M.D., M.A. “But what stands out here is that Americans are reporting more anxious feelings than in past years. This increase may be due to the unprecedented exposure that we have to everything that happens in the world around us, or to an increased awareness and reporting of anxiety. Either way, if people have these feelings, they are not alone, and they can seek help from us.”

Preferences and Concerns Regarding Mental Health Care

Among adults who have used mental health care this year, 55% prefer in-person meetings with mental health professionals, 30% prefer telehealth, and 15% have no preference. Additionally, more than half (59%) are concerned about losing access to mental health care, and 39% of insured adults worry about losing their health insurance due to political changes.

Perceptions and Broader Impacts of Untreated Mental Illness

A significant majority of adults (83%) believe untreated mental illness negatively impacts families, and 65% say it negatively affects the U.S. economy. Moreover, 71% feel that children and teens have more mental health problems than they did a decade ago. However, over half of adults (55%) think there is less stigma surrounding mental health issues than ten years ago.

“Over the past ten years, we’ve grown more comfortable talking about mental health, and that’s absolutely key to helping us through the current crisis,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “The continued work of APA is to ensure that people can access care when they need it, especially in areas that need it badly, like child and adolescent psychiatry.”

stressed Mom sitting on couch with running children in background

Additional Sources of Stress

Other concerns contributing to anxiety include:

  • Personal and family safety: 68%
  • Identity theft: 63%
  • Personal health: 63%
  • Paying bills or expenses: 63%
  • The opioid epidemic: 50%
  • Impact of emerging technology on daily life: 46%
  • Climate change: 57%

Survey Methodology
This annual poll was conducted from April 9 to 11, 2024, among a sample of more than 2,200 adults. The survey is complemented by APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly series, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of APA.

Women and Stress

It has often been shown that women are the worriers and often do not make time to manage their health and take care of themselves. Stress can affect women differently and there are many effective strategies to help them reduce the negative effects of everyday stressors.

A Happy Marriage Reduces Stress and Promotes Health and Longevity

References: Vaillant GE. AGING WELL: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development. Little, Brown and Co. New York, 2002. Health and Stress Newsletter by The American Institute of Stress, #5, #7 2005, #10 2002, #7 2000, #9 1999.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is the longest and most comprehensive investigation of the aging process ever conducted. Since the 1930s, researchers have closely followed more than 800 men and women from adolescence to old age to seek clues about behaviors and activities that are associated with healthy longevity. Some of the findings surprised George Vaillant, a former director of this project and author of Aging Well. He anticipated that “the longevity of your parents, the quality of your childhood and cholesterol levels would be very influential.” They were not. Keeping mentally active and having lots of friends were much more important. A happy marriage or good long-termrelationship at age 50 was a leading indicator of being healthy at age 80 whereas a low cholesterol level had very little significance.

Why would a happy marriage or having lots of friends promote healthy aging? Stress can accelerate the aging process, however, having strong social and emotional support from friends or family can reduce the harmful effects of stress. Stress contributes to illness and premature mortality and reducesthe immune system’s ability to ward off infections and certain cancers. British researchers reported that in a study of more than 180 senior citizens who received the influenza vaccine, those who were happily married developed higher antibodies, and participants who had experienced a significant bereavement had poorer antibody responses.

Routine Activities Adults Do When Feeling Stressed

51%

pray in private

24%

play online games for a few hours

22%

exercise or play sports

18%

recreational shopping