AMERICANS LIVE SICKER, DIE EARLIER, AND YET EULOGIZE THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE
COULD STRESS BE A FACTOR RE HEALTH (and death)?
That invaluable site, www.mercola.com, has just run an interesting piece on stress.
Being an intellectually curious writer, I confess I find it downright relaxing (de-stressing) to read such stuff—but I am not unaware of the irony.
I am repeatedly struck by how little is done to make the American Way of Life less stressful—even though the solutions are well known. A great deal is being done to make it more stressful.
It makes some ultra-rich people even richer.
Is that a good enough answer?
Stress in America Caused by Money
By Dr. Mercola
The American Psychological Association (APA) has released its latest “Stress in America” report, with some good news to report. Overall, average stress levels in the US are trending downward.
On a 10-point scale, with 1 being “little or no stress” and 10 being “a great deal of stress,” the average stress level was 4.9 in 2014, compared to over 6 in 2007.1 That being said, many are still reporting high levels of stress, especially when it comes to one major factor: money.
Money and Financial Pressures Are Stressing Americans Out
Money topped the list of stressors to Americans, beating out work, family responsibilities, and health concerns. Close to three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) said they feel stressed about money at least some of the time, and close to one-quarter (22 percent) said they experience extreme stress about money.
In the last year, most Americans have taken steps to cut back on their expenses, including using coupons, cooking more at home, and cutting back on non-essentials. Despite these steps, 54 percent of Americans say they have “just enough” or “not enough” money to make ends meet at the end of the month.
What’s more, 32 percent of Americans said their lack of money prevents them from living a healthy lifestyle, while one in five have skipped (or considered skipping) needed doctor’s visits due to financial concerns.
It’s a vicious cycle, because both stress and financial pressure can take a toll on your health, which in turn may create more stress and money trouble. According to the APA report:2
“These findings stand against a backdrop of research that shows the profound effects of stress on health status and longevity. Research also shows that financial struggles strain individuals’ cognitive abilities, which could lead to poor decision-making and may perpetuate their unfavorable financial and health situations.”
Health Care Costs Are a Leading Source of Financial Stress
“Even though aspects of the U.S. economy continue to improve, some Americans are squeezed by sharp increases in health care costs and the cost of living,” the report noted. Overall, 38 percent of Americans said paying for out-of-pocket health care costs is a somewhat or very significant source of stress.
Parents and younger people (Generation Xers) report even higher levels of stress due to health care costs, as do those who make $50,000 a year or less (the study’s definition of lower income).
America spends 2.5 times more on health care per capita than any other developed nation, quickly approaching $3 trillion every year. With this kind of expenditure, you would expect our citizens to be the healthiest in the world, but this is not the case. In fact, the US ranks dead last in quality of care—Americans are sicker and live shorter lives than people in most other industrialized nations.