A new study shows that factors like discrimination and poor health increase stress levels.

By Sarah Yang
Updated March 10, 2016
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Americans are finding it hard to relax. Stress levels have grown in the past two years and people are more likely to report feeling extreme levels of stress than they have in past years, according to a new survey: 2015 Stress in America, released by the American Psychological Association. Overall, the study—which was conducted last August among 3,361 adults—found that average stress levels had risen from 4.9 (based on a 10-point scale) in 2014 to 5.1 in 2015.

The study also revealed that women report higher stress levels than men—with the average level for women a 5.3 versus a 4.9 level for men. Millenials and Gen Xers continued to report higher levels of stress than Baby Boomers, which has been a constant since 2012. In addition, LGBT adults were more likely to report extreme stress levels and an increase in stress over the last year, compared to their non-LGBT counterparts. And not surprisingly, people living in urban areas reported higher levels of stress than those who lived in suburban or rural areas.

Health is also a big factor on stress levels, and according to the study, people were more likely than last year to see the connection between stress and physical and mental health. One-third of the respondents said that stress has an impact on their wellbeing.

Since 2007, money and work have continued to be the top two sources of high stress, but family responsibilities has appeared as a third source for the first time. The survey also looked at how discrimination affects stress and found that 7 in 10 adults said they had experience discrimination and 61 percent face some form of it every day. The average stress level of someone who experiences discrimination was much higher than someone who doesn’t.

But, there’s some good news: The majority of people who said they faced discrimination feel that they had dealt with it well. And many adults reported a positive outlook because of strong emotional support.