LOS ANGELES, Jan. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Forty-three percent of Los Angeles residents report that their stress has increased in the past five years, and stress in Los Angeles remains higher than considered healthy, according to a survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA) and conducted online by Harris Interactive among 281 LA residents and 1,226 U.S. adults in August and September. Money (74 percent), work (73 percent) and the economy (64 percent) top the list of items that cause stress for Los Angeles residents.
Los Angeles residents continue to experience high stress levels, reporting an average stress level of 5.3 on a 10-point scale. This stress level is higher than what they considered healthy (3.9 on a 10-point scale). Yet, more than half of LA residents (48 percent) feel that they do an excellent or very good job of knowing when they are feeling stressed. And four in 10 (42 percent) Los Angeles adults (vs. 37 percent nationally) say that stress has a very strong or strong impact on their body or physical health. To manage their stress, Los Angeles residents report listening to music and exercising, which is comparable to adults nationwide. In addition, LA residents were more likely than Americans overall to believe that a psychologist can help with stress management (51 percent vs. 41 percent) and making lifestyle and behavior changes (45 percent vs. 34 percent).
While more than seven out of ten (73 percent) of adults in the LA area report being very or somewhat satisfied with their health, almost half (49 percent) have been told to exercise more, and more than four out of ten have been told to lose weight (42 percent), or eat a healthier diet (43 percent).
Among those who attempted to make a lifestyle change, a greater number of adults in LA than those nationwide say they have been successful at eating a healthier diet (48 percent vs. 44 percent), exercising more (45 percent vs. 39 percent) and losing weight (39 percent vs. 30 percent).
Lack of willpower and lack of time are the most common barriers to change for Los Angeles residents—with three out of ten adults who were either told to make a change or decided to make a change on their own citing each (31 percent willpower, 29 percent lack of time) as a key barrier to change. Only one-third of adults in Los Angeles (34 percent) and nationally (38 percent) who attempted to reduce their stress have been successful in doing so.
"While many Los Angeles residents recognize the impact that stress has on the body, the numbers who are stressed about money, work and the economy continues to be cause for concern," said Los Angeles-area psychologist Dr. Michael Ritz, the public education coordinator for the California Psychological Association. "And more than four out of 10 Los Angeles residents have seen their stress increase in the past five years. It's important people pay attention to signs of stress, because stress can affect your physical and emotional health, especially if not managed properly."
The national survey found that reported stress levels have stabilized from the highs of the economic crisis; however, they remain higher than what is considered healthy. Furthermore, Americans who serve as caregivers — providing care to both the aging and chronically ill — for their family members report higher levels of stress, poorer health and a greater tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviors to alleviate that stress than the population at large.
The national survey also found that people suffering from depression or obesity report higher average stress levels than the rest of the population, and are more likely to respond that they are not doing enough to manage their stress. People who are depressed or obese are more likely that the general population to try eating a healthier diet or taking other steps to reduce stress levels, but are less likely to report success when making health lifestyle changes.
To read the full report on Los Angeles and the United States, visit www.stressinamerica.org.
Stress in America is part of APA's Mind/Body Health public education campaign. For additional information on stress and lifestyle and behavior, visit www.apa.org/helpcenter and read the campaign blog www.yourmindyourbody.org. Join the conversation about stress on Twitter by following @apahelpcenter and #stressAPA.
The Stress in America™ survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between August 11 and September 6, 2011, among 1,226 adults aged 18+ who reside in the U.S. In addition, an oversample of 281 adults living in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was collected. MSAs are a formal definition of metropolitan areas produced by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. These geographic areas are delineated on the basis of central urbanized areas —contiguous counties of relatively high population density. Counties containing the core urbanized area are known as the central counties of the MSA. Additional surrounding counties (known as outlying counties) can be included in the MSA if these counties have strong social and economic ties to the central counties as measured by commuting and employment. Note that some areas within these outlying counties may actually be rural in nature. Because the sample is based on those who were invited and agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. To read the full methodology, visit www.stressinamerica.org.
The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 154,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.
SOURCE American Psychological Association