Who is Feeling the Most Stress?

According to the American Psychological Association, 28 percent of women and 20 percent of men say they suffer “a great deal of stress,” with 11 percent more women than men reporting stress-induced headaches and stress-induced stomach upsets. Forty-four percent of women and 15 percent of men reported “having felt as though they could cry” in the past month. “Keep in mind that this is self-reported stress,” notes Jay Winner, author of Take the Stress Out of Your Life. “More women admit to suffering from a great deal of stress… Men could think of themselves as weak by admitting to be suffering from stress. Additionally, women, especially working mothers, do tend to take on multiple stressful roles.

Only 30 percent of people over 65, 47 percent of Boomers, and 43 percent of Millennials frequently feel irritable or angry; 22 percent of over-65s, 35 percent of boomers, and 36 percent of millennials get stress headaches. More than those in other age groups, Gen-Xers respond to stress with unhealthy behaviors such as lying awake at night (49 percent), overeating or eating unhealthy food (48 percent), and drinking alcohol (23 percent). “The most interesting thing about these statistics is that all of the age groups have a high percentage of stressed people,” Winner observes. “If people don’t learn effective ways of dealing with stress, their health may suffer…Excessive stress has been associated with a variety of serious ills, including heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.”

According to the study that yielded this stat, 33 percent of married women reported high stress levels, compared to 22 percent of single women. Forty-eight percent of married women suffered stress-induced headaches, compared to 33 percent of single women. It’s the kid factor and the husband factor, Luskin says: “A lot of married women are stressed because they have to nurture their partners emotionally and they’re not getting the same thing in return. Those husbands aren’t pulling their weight.”

According to the American Psychological Association, 31 percent of overweight children “worry a great deal,” compared to 14 percent of normal-weight kids, and overweight children are three times more likely to “worry about the way they look” than normal-weight kids. The APA also found that obese adults are 17 percent more likely than average-weight adults to feel angry or irritable frequently. Heavy people “tend to not be well-treated by their peers,” Luskin says. “They tend to have lower self-esteem and not to feel as good physically. When you’re carrying around lard, it’s not easy to run and jump. Some of their stress comes from physical pain.”

The women examined in the study that yielded this finding had abortions on average 15 years before being interviewed. Fifty-two and a half percent of those whose abortions occurred during the first trimester of pregnancy met the PTSD criteria, as did 67.4 percent of those whose abortions occurred during the second or third trimesters. According to the study’s authors, women in the latter group “experience elevated risk for certain forms of unwelcome re-experience of the abortion procedure,” such as “intrusive memories, whether in the form of flashbacks or disturbing dreams.”

The longer you’re out of work, the higher your stress. Fifty-five percent of those who have been unemployed for more than six months report significant stress, compared to 46 percent of those who have been unemployed for one to six months and 40 percent of those who have been unemployed for less than a month. Don’t let it undermine you, Winner warns. “Keep things in perspective… If you count up your blessings, you have more than you think. Reframing is important. Instead of thinking yourself as a failure, try to learn from unsuccessful job interviews.”