Upfront

For the first time, the number of middle-aged men reporting stress related to money, job stability and work has surpassed that of women, finds a new APA stress poll.

Harris Interactive conducted the spring stress survey—part of APA's Mind/Body Health education campaign—on behalf of APA over three days in April and collected stress level reports from more than 2,000 adults. In the 45–54 age group, 86 percent of men reported money as a significant stressor, up from 78 percent reported in September. By contrast, women in this age group reported a drop in money-related stress, from 83 percent in September down to 78 percent in the recent poll.

Men in this age group were also more likely than women to report work as a significant source of stress—81 percent of men compared with 68 percent of women.

The same pattern can be seen in the 35–44 age group, where 88 percent of men reported money as a significant stressor, compared with 77 percent of women. Job security as a source of stress in men in this age group also jumped from 57 percent in September to 71 percent in the latest poll, while women's reports stayed around 63 percent.

These numbers are intriguing because women have traditionally reported more stress than men, says David Ballard, PsyD, MBA, assistant executive director of APA's corporate relations and business strategy. Ballard believes certain characteristics of the current recession, such as sweeping layoffs in male-dominated workplaces, such as industry and manufacturing, are taking their toll on men.

"The pressures right now center around work and the economy—two things that men tend to tie their identities to," he says.

Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, executive director for professional practice at APA, adds, "When they perceive that their work is under threat or fear being unable to meet the basic needs of their family, stress can intensify."

In times of stress, it's easy to turn to unhealthy behaviors like drinking, smoking and sedentary activities, Nordal says. Instead, people who are stressed should turn to friends and family for support and eat healthy and stay active, which all help keep stress in check.

—M. Price

Causes of stress among the general population

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Source: APA Stress in America survey.