American emotional and psychological stress levels are their highest level in 10 years, according to a new Harris Poll, and Donald Trump appears to be the cause. The spiking stress levels are not spread equally among all Americans, with groups most likely to be affected by Trump’s presidency showing the highest levels of stress.
The poll was conducted by Harris for the American Psychological Association, which has been running its Stress In America survey every year since 2007. And according to the APA, American stress levels have shown a steady decline over the entire 10-year span. Until now.
The last regular APA Harris poll was taken in August of last year — but the association commissioned an addition poll in January 2017, and that poll found the first spike in American stress levels since the survey began. The cause — politics.
Measured on a scale of one to 10, America’s overall stress rating jumped from 4.8 last summer to 5.1 by January. While the August 2016 poll marked the first time that politics-related questions were included in the Stress In America survey, the new poll in January showed that politics was now a major source of stress for Americans.
But with Trump’s election victory and subsequent start of his presidential term, Democrats — the vast majority of whom would have voted for Hillary Clinton — were considerably more stressed out than Republicans. In fact nearly three of every four Democrats, 72 percent, said that Trump was causing them significant stress. But just one in four Republicans — 26 percent — felt stressed out by the prospects of a Trump presidency.
Overall, 57 percent of Americans said that the current political climate was either a “very significant” or “somewhat significant” source of their stress, while 49 percent — nearly half — called the results of the November 8 election, in which Trump beat Clinton on electoral votes, while losing the popular vote by about 3 million, a “significant” cause of emotional stress.
After a series of incidents over the past few years in which African-American citizens were gunned down by police officers, Trump has announced measures to give police more authority and latitude. Unsurprisingly then, African Americans surveyed by the APA poll reported higher levels of election-related stress than any other demographic group in the survey.
While barely more than 40 percent of whites said they were significantly stressed out by the Trump victory, nearly 70 percent of blacks reported high stress levels caused by the election results.
Roughly 55 percent of Latinos and Asians reported high levels of election-related stress.
The demographic stress levels line up with the election results. Exit polls showed that while 57 percent of all white voters cast ballots for Trump, only 21 percent of non-white voters did so, with 74 percent of non-whites voting for Clinton.
Trump-related stress levels of Americans with different levels of education also correspond to the election results. Of Americans with some level of education beyond high school, 53 percent say that the election results cause them significant stress.
Among those with only a high school education or less, just 38 percent are stressed out in a major way by the Trump victory.
City dwellers, at more than 60 percent, are about twice as stressed out as Americans in rural areas as a result of the election, while the millennial age group shows the highest stress level of any generation in the survey, at more than 55 percent.
Most alarming, 66 percent of Americans say that they are feeling significant stress about the future of the country.
“The fact that two-thirds of Americans are saying the future of the nation is causing them stress, it is a startling number,” APA Stress In America team member Vaile Wright told the Washington Post. “It seems to suggest that what people thought would happen, that there would be relief [after the election] did not occur, and instead since the election, stress has increased.”
In other words, most Americans expected Clinton to win the election, and when Trump won a surprise victory, American stress levels spiked.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]