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Poll Shows Americans’ ‘Unprecedented' Stress Levels Due to Inflation and War in Ukraine

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Since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago, Americans' lives have changed dramatically. School closures, working from home, and other pandemic-related lifestyle changes took a toll on adults' and childrens' mental health. Now, a poll is showing that record-high inflation and Russia's war on Ukraine have increased Americans' stress levels astronomically. 

The American Psychological Association's annual "Stress in America" poll published Thursday found that American adults have hit unprecedented levels of stress compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, soaring inflation, and the war in Ukraine. 

According to the findings of the poll, a significant 87 percent of adults cited rising prices of items like groceries and gas as a "significant" source of stress. 

The poll, conducted between March 1 to March 3, found that this "money stress" is the highest recorded since 2015. Following inflation, 81 percent of respondents said that supply chain issues are causing them stress. Eighty-one percent noted "global uncertainty" as a source of stress, and 80 percent cited Russia's invasion of Ukraine and potential retaliation from Russia as a source of stress. 

"These stressors are coming at a time when the nation is still struggling to deal with the prolonged pandemic and its effects on our daily lives, with close to two-thirds of adults (63%) saying their life has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic," an APA press release stated. "While a majority (51%) reported this change as neither positive nor negative—simply different—the long-lasting implications of the pandemic are clear. The survey also revealed continued hardships for vulnerable populations, concerns for children's development among parents and entrenched, unhealthy coping habits."

Last year's survey found that coronavirus-related stress was correlated with unhealthy weight changes and increased alcohol consumption. This year's survey confirmed that these unhealthy lifestyle habits stuck, suggesting that coping mechanisms have become "entrenched." Almost half, 47 percent, of adults, noted they have been less active since the pandemic started, and 58 percent recorded undesired weight changes. 

"The number of people who say they're significantly stressed about these most recent events is stunning relative to what we've seen since we began the survey in 2007," said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA's chief executive officer. "Americans have been doing their best to persevere over these past two tumultuous years, but these data suggest that we're now reaching unprecedented levels of stress that will challenge our ability to cope." 

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