One-third of Americans say they're extremely stressed and about half believe their stress has gotten worse in the past five years, a new poll reveals.
Crushed by steep housing costs and stagnant incomes, a whopping three-quarters of adults say money and work are stressing them out, up from 59% last year. Nearly half say stress ruins their personal lives.
"We're genuinely seeing an increase in stress," said Russ Newman of the American Psychological Association. "We're seeing a real increase in work-life balance problems - that work is interfering with family responsibilities and that family responsibilities are interfering with work-load productivity," he added.
Living on the East or West coasts makes stress worse, the survey of 1,848 adults shows. Those in the East are most likely of all Americans to get stressed by their job and have trouble juggling work with their home life.
"Work is the most stressful of all," agreed Chris Bell, 25, a communications worker who splits his time between New York and Philadelphia. "By the end of the day, you feel so burned out and just want to fall on the couch - especially when work involves travel."
Paul O'Connor, 53, feels the tug of war between home and his job in real estate.
"You worry about the health of your parents. You worry about some of your obligations at your job," said O'Connor, a Queens native who lives in Nutley, N.J. "At work, telecommunications makes everything go at a much faster rate."
Women are more likely than men to say they're extremely stressed (35% compared with 28%) and that their stress has escalated in the past five years (50% vs. 46%).
They're also more likely to feel stress where it hurts - in sleep loss and overeating and by using prescription drugs to cope.
While most Americans claim to manage their stress well, their behavior says otherwise, with about half staying awake at night or eating unhealthily.
"People take stress for granted as a natural part of life, so they don't do anything about it," Newman said. "They think they have to live with it."
Graphic designer J.P. Endress, 39, said not much stresses him out - except, on occasion, money.
To relax, the Maplewood, N.J., resident will "have six beers. But I sometimes have them when I'm not stressed, too."