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Less Stress in Detroit, But Many Report Stress-Linked Health Problems

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Money, work and the economy are significant causes of stress for residents of Detroit, even though residents report slightly lower levels of stress in 2010 than in 2009, according to a survey released this week by the American Psychological Association.

But while residents report feeling less stress, the majority of residents surveyed report chronic health problems, and one-third say they don’t have the willpower to make the necessary lifestyle changes recommended by their health care providers.

The survey shows that financial worries continue to be on the minds of Detroit residents. When asked if they feel better about their family’s financial situation this year, only 27 percent say they believe things have improved from 2009 to 2010.

Even though fewer residents cite work (69 percent in 2010 vs. 77 percent in 2009) and the economy (70 percent vs. 72 percent) as a cause of stress this year, most residents report them — along with money (77 percent vs. 74 in 2009) —  as a cause of their stress. The percentage of residents who say they feel a great deal of stress declined from one-third in 2009 (33 percent) to a quarter (25 percent).  Only 37 percent report that their stress increased in the past year, compared to 61 percent in 2009.

Detroit residents are also feeling better at work in 2010. The number of adults who say they are tense or stressed out while at work fell from 53 percent in 2009 to 38 percent this year.  And more adults would recommend their workplace to others (58 percent in 2010 vs. 47 percent in 2009).

However, the survey numbers show that the majority of Detroit adults have reported a diagnosis of a chronic health problem, such as high blood pressure (33 percent), high cholesterol (30 percent) and obesity (28 percent). Nearly half of adults have been told by a healthcare provider that they need to exercise more (44 percent) or lose weight (48 percent).

While significantly fewer adults this year say that stress gets in the way of making recommended lifestyle changes (4 percent in 2010 vs. 26 percent in 2009), lack of willpower is cited by 33 percent of residents as a barrier to making changes.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive in August.

“It’s good news to see that fewer people in the region are reporting such high levels of stress, especially since we know there is a strong connection between chronic stress and serious health problems, ” said Josephine D. Johnson, a Detroit-area psychologist. “But it’s also alarming that so many people report health problems and that they struggle with adopting the necessary lifestyle changes that can improve their health.”

At a national level, the annual Stress in America survey shows that Americans appear to be caught in a vicious cycle where they manage stress in unhealthy ways, and lack of willpower and time constraints impede their ability to make lifestyle or behavioral changes. In general, Americans recognize that their stress levels remain high and exceed what they consider to be healthy.

The national survey also found that while reported stress levels across the nation remain similar to last year, fewer adults report being satisfied with the ways that their employer helps employees balance work and personal life demands, and in general, concern about job stability is on the rise.

To read the full report on Detroit and the United States, visit www.stressinamerica.org.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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