Americans are at Risk of Stress-Induced Breakdowns
Americans are among the most stressed out in the world, putting us at 20 percentage points higher than the global average. By the end of 2023, topics weighing heavily on the minds of many are global conflicts, racism, racial injustice, inflation, and climate-related disasters.
According to the American Institute of Stress:
- 54% of Americans want to stay informed about the news but following the news causes them stress.
- 1 in 4 American adults say discrimination is a significant source of stress.
- 42% of US adults cite personal debt as a significant source of stress.
When events are experienced “too much, too soon” it can feel overwhelming. Triggers from adverse experiences from childhood and traumatic eventsthrough adulthood can heighten distressing thoughts and difficult emotions, especially around anniversaries such as holidays.
The lingering effects of stress and posttraumatic stress following the aftermath of the pandemic are experienced throughout the nation as we are starting to see the consequences of long-term stress on physical and mental well-being. There is consensus among psychologists on the mental health impact of collective trauma. Adults ages 18 to 24 are reporting the highest rates of mental illness, with significant increases in chronic illness and mental health diagnoses in adults ages 35-44.
The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory includes a list of 43 significant life events. Looking at the number of events you have experienced over the last year and measuring your total score can help determine if you are at risk of illness. Higher scores indicate an increased likelihood of having a stress-induced health breakdown. Some of the top stressors listed include the following:
- Death of a spouse, close friend, or family member
- Divorce or separation
- Detention in jail or another institution
- Major personal injury or illness
- Significant family/ lifestyle changes such as marriage, pregnancy, or retirement
- Being fired at work
- Major change in the health of a family member
- Sexual difficulties
Humans have an amazing capacity for resilience to be able to not only survive but thrive amidst hardship. While you may feel that you need to “tough it out” and go through stressors alone, most people can recover and adjust more easily when being proactive in addressing their health with the support of a mental health specialist.
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC