Inflation, war, COVID pandemic pushing US stress levels through the roof, poll says

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The COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation, and the war in Ukraine has pushed Americans’ stress levels to “alarming levels,” according to a new poll. 

The “Stress in America” poll, conducted annually by the American Psychological Association, found that more adults rated inflation and issues related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as stressors than at any other issue asked about in poll’s 15-year history.  

Price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline is shown on a digital sign at a service station Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Denver.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Of those surveyed, nearly 90% of the surveyed cited the rise in prices of everyday items due to inflation as “top sources of stress.” Other top issues were disruptions in the supply chain, global uncertainty, and Russia’s potential retaliation in the form of cyberattacks or nuclear threats. 

“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,” APA’s chief executive officer, Arthur C. Evans Jr, Ph.D., said. “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.” 

A healthcare worker administers a booster dose of a COVID 19 vaccine at a temporary vaccine center in Guatemala City, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

The poll also found that unhealthy behaviors associated with COVID-19-related stress are still lingering two years after the CDC first declared a pandemic. 

These findings, the poll said, suggest that “coping mechanisms have become entrenched – and that mental and physical health may be on a continuing decline for many as a result.” 

A report also released Thursday by the Labor Department showed that consumer inflation jumped nearly 8% over the past year, the sharpest spike in 40 years. 

Meanwhile, average gas prices nationwide have jumped about 62 cents a gallon to $4.32, according to AAA. 

Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine accelerated prices, robust consumer spending, solid pay raises, and persistent supply shortages had sent U.S. inflation to its highest level in four decades. 

Additionally, housing costs, which make up about a third of the government’s consumer price index, have risen sharply, a trend that’s unlikely to reverse anytime soon. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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