Americans are some of the most stressed-out people in the world, according to Gallup’s annual Global Emotions report.
For the report, Gallup polled about 1,000 adults in countries around the world last year about the emotions they’d experienced the day before the survey. Negative emotions and experiences — stress, anger, worry, sadness and physical pain — were common around the world, tying 2017’s record-setting levels, the report found.
In the U.S., 55% of respondents told Gallup they’d felt a lot of stress the day before, well above the global average of 35%. Gallup’s research found that lower-income Americans tended to report more stress, as did those who disapprove of President Donald Trump. Prior studies and polls have found that finances, health and health care and politics and current events are leading stressors for Americans, and social media and technology are frequently blamed for stress and mental health issues as well.
Many of the countries experiencing roughly as much stress as the U.S. were embroiled in political turmoil of some kind, whether humanitarian, economic or security-related. Greece, the Philippines and Tanzania were the only countries with stress rates higher than the U.S. Albania, Iran and Sri Lanka were tied with the U.S.
While some stress is normal and even healthy, chronic stress is connected to a range of conditions, including mental health issues, cognitive changes and chronic disease. That makes widespread stress a public-health issue.
Americans felt plenty of other negative emotions, too. Forty-five percent said they’d felt worried during the day before the survey, and 22% said they’d felt angry. The global averages for those feelings were 39% and 22%, respectively.
The Gallup report, in keeping with prior studies, found that younger Americans (defined in the report as those between the ages of 15 and 49) were the most likely to feel stressed, worried or angry. The American Psychological Association in 2018 found that Generation Z is the most stressed-out age group due to factors such as violence, political turmoil, finances and health. And Millennials and Gen Z are known to have disproportionately high rates of anxiety, loneliness and depression, which can be tied to stress.
While negative emotions like these were common worldwide in 2018, positive emotions were also on the rise, Gallup found.
Gallup’s measure of the world’s positive experiences had been on the decline for a few years, but that trend reversed in 2018, with more people reporting good experiences the day before the survey than they did in 2017. Worldwide, 87% of people said they were treated with respect the day before, 74% had smiled or laughed a lot, 72% felt well-rested and 71% felt a lot of enjoyment. The only positive experience reported by less than half of respondents was learning or doing something interesting the day before, which 49% of people said they had.
As in prior years, Latin American countries led the world in positive experiences, with Paraguay and Panama tying for first. African countries tended to have the most negative experiences, led by Chad, Niger and Sierra Leone.