Stress in Detroit

Detroit residents* report that they are experiencing less stress today than they were a year ago and are far less likely to say that stress gets in the way of their efforts to make lifestyle and behavior changes than Americans in general. While they continue to cite money, the economy and work as the leading causes of stress, compared to last year, significantly fewer adults in Detroit report that they feel tense or stressed out during a typical workday. Despite those reports, nearly half of Detroit residents say they have been told by their health care provider to lose weight and get more exercise.

Stress on the Decline in the Motor City

Residents of Detroit report being generally less stressed today than they were last year.

  • The percentage reporting that they are under a “great deal” (an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale) of stress has fallen, from one-third of Detroit residents in 2009 (33 percent) to one-quarter in 2010 (25 percent), while the percent claiming they have “little or no stress” (a 1, 2 or 3 on a 10-point scale) has more than doubled in the past year, rising from 13 percent in 2009 to 29 percent in 2010. 

  • After holding steady for two years, the average reported stress level in Detroit also has fallen significantly, from 6.2 (on a 10-point scale) in 2008 and 6.1 in 2009 to 5.4 in 2010.

  • The number of respondents reporting an increase in stress over the past year likewise fell substantially, from six in 10 Detroit residents (61 percent) in 2009 to four in 10 (37 percent) in 2010.

  • Adults in Detroit report experiencing significantly fewer physical and emotional symptoms of stress this year, such as irritability (40 percent in 2010, down from 48 percent in 2009), fatigue (40 percent in 2010, down from 47 percent in 2009) and anxiety (40 percent in 2010, down from 57 percent in 2009). Similarly, fewer Detroit adults report that they have lain awake at night due to stress (40 percent reported having lain awake at night due to stress in the past month in 2010 compared with 62 percent in 2009).

  • The percentage of Detroit residents who say they are doing enough to manage their stress levels has risen from 45 percent to 64 percent, a figure that is significantly higher than the national average (55 percent).

  • Money (77 percent), the economy (70 percent) and work (69 percent) continue to be the most frequently cited sources of stress for Detroit residents (74 percent cited money, 72 percent cited the economy, and 77 percent cited work as sources of stress in 2009).

  • The proportion of adults in Detroit who say they are stressed at work also has fallen since last year (38 percent in 2010 from 53 percent in 2009), and the number who say they would recommend their place of work to others has risen (58 percent in 2010, up from 47 percent in 2009).

Stress and Health

  • Seven out of 10 adults in Detroit (70 percent) have been diagnosed with a chronic condition in the last five years. High blood pressure (33 percent), high cholesterol (30 percent) and obesity (28 percent) are the conditions most frequently reported by Detroit residents. 

  • Nearly half of Detroit residents have been told by their health care provider that they need to lose weight (48 percent) and more than four in 10 have been told to get more exercise (44 percent). A third (33 percent) report having been advised to switch to a healthier diet. Sixteen percent have been instructed to reduce their level of stress, which is less than the percentage of Americans overall who have been told to reduce stress by a health care provider (21 percent).

Changing Unhealthy Behaviors

  • In 2009, half of all Detroit residents (52 percent) said they lacked the willpower needed to make lifestyle changes recommended by their health care provider. That number fell to just one-third of residents (33 percent) this year. However, willpower remains the most frequently cited barrier to change for Detroit residents. 

  • Only 4 percent of Detroit residents cite stress as a barrier to change, down from 26 percent a year ago. In fact, they are less likely than Americans overall to cite stress as a barrier (4 percent vs. 10 percent). 

  • Detroit residents are less likely than Americans overall to report that their definition of willpower means they lack motivation (37 percent vs. 50 percent), get too discouraged (19 percent vs. 31 percent) or don’t have energy (18 percent vs. 28 percent). The most common definition among Detroit residents was, “I am not disciplined or organized enough to make changes,” (47 percent). 

  • Detroit residents report gaps between the value they place on some behaviors and their ability to be successful in these areas. For example, more than half of Detroit residents say that getting enough sleep is extremely/very important to them (58 percent), but only 31 percent say they are doing a an excellent/very good job of this; likewise, 54 percent say that being physically active is extremely/very important, but only 28 percent say they are doing an excellent/very good job of this. More than six out of 10 adults (64 percent) say it is extremely/very important to manage stress but only four in 10 (39 percent) say they are doing an excellent/very good job of achieving it. 

  • Among Detroit residents, having good relationships with family is cited as the most important aspect of well-being (84 percent say it is extremely/very important), much more so than eating healthy (56 percent) or being physically active (54 percent). 

  • To manage their stress, adults in Detroit are most likely to exercise or go for a walk (54 percent). Four in 10 say they read or spend time with family and friends (45 percent) and listen to music (44 percent). 

  • Lack of time is the most commonly mentioned reason why Detroit residents do not do more to manage their stress.

Financial Optimism?

When asked directly whether they feel better about their family’s financial situation this year compared to last, only 27 percent of Detroit residents say they agree or strongly agree that things have improved. A greater percentage disagree or strongly disagree (37 percent) and 36 percent are ambivalent.

*This section of the report focuses only on the views of residents within the Detroit MSA (2008 n=235; 2009 n=207; 2010 n=214) and the general population (2008 n=1,791; 2009 n=1,568; 2010 n=1,134).