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Stressed Out Americans Want Help, But Many Don't Get It

Posted: February 8, 2013

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Health care professionals aren't giving Americans the stress management advice they want, according to a new survey. The untreated anxiety may be good news for the snack food and video game industries.

Life as a millennial may not be as mellow as it looks.

Life as a millennial may not be as mellow as it looks.

Nobody doubts that stress can contribute to health problems, from depression to anxiety to heart attacks.

But you could be forgiven for thinking that folks who take care of other people for a living don't seem to have fully absorbed the message.

More than half of Americans say they get little or no help managing stress from their providers of health care, according to the annual Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association. The group surveys about 2,000 adults across the country each year.

The latest findings square with other studies that find a quarter of Americans don't have access to mental health care.

People who weren't getting that kind of help were more likely to say that life got more stressful in the past year.

The docs did a little better with discussing lifestyle and behavior changes that would improve health, with 61 percent of people saying they got help with that.

Still, those numbers suggest that a lot of people are walking out of the doctor's office just as stressed out as they were when they arrived.

The nation's overall stress index declined a bit in 2012, to 4.9 on a 10-point scale, after several years of recession-fueled angst.

But people in their 20s aren't feeling very relaxed. The millennial generation rates their stress levels higher than any other age group in the new survey. Considering that unemployment in 20-somethings is running 13 percent, compared to 8 percent for the population overall, they've got that one right.

"When we asked young people what caused them stress, about 75 percent talk about work and money," says Norman Anderson, who is CEO of the American Psychological Association.

And it looks like they could really use some good medical advice on stress management. "The millennials are saying, 'Yes, we'd like to get more help with managing stress, we'd like to get more help with living a health lifestyle, we'd like to get more help with mental health, but we're not getting it,' " Anderson told Shots.

Millennials say they're turning to food and video games to chill, with 36 percent chowing down, compared to 25 percent of all adults, and 41 percent firing up the game console.

Maybe a dog would help? Last year, researchers said that people who took their dogs to work had lower stress hormones than dogless workers.

No word on if the dog thing works if you don't have a job.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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