Magazine article USA TODAY

Too Many Families Appear Stressed Out

Magazine article USA TODAY

Too Many Families Appear Stressed Out

Article excerpt

Red flags have been raised by findings from the American Psychological Association concerning the long-term impact that chronic stress could have on our physical and emotional health, as an APA survey shows that Americans appear to be caught in a vicious cycle where they manage stress in unhealthy ways, while lack of willpower and time constraints impede their ability to make lifestyle or behavioral changes. This is particularly true for those who believe themselves to be in fair or poor health.

There also seems to be a troublesome trend emerging among families in which parents are underestimating how much stress their offspring experience and the impact their own stress has on their children. At file same time, children as young as eight years old are reporting that they experience physical and emotional health consequences often associated with stress.

"This country is at a critical crossroads when it comes to stress and our health," warns Norman B. Anderson, APA's chief executive officer and executive vice president. "Year after year, nearly three-quarters of Americans say they experience stress at levels that exceed what they define as healthy, putting themselves at risk for developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Stress is hurting our physical and emotional health and contributing to some of the leading causes of death in this country.

"People are also saying they have difficulty implementing the changes they know will decrease their stress and improve their health. Yet, our health care system is not adequately addressing this issue or providing the behavioral health treatments that can help Americans. All of us, including the medical community, need to take stress seriously since it could easily become our next public health crisis."

The survey results show that youngsters and adults alike who are obese or overweight are more likely to report that they feel stress, and overweight or obese children convey that their parents often or always were stressed over the past month. Kids who are overweight are more likely to say they worry a great deal or a lot compared to those of normal weight. …

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