Chronic stress may have a long-term impact on the physical, emotional and mental health of American families, according to the American Psychological Association’s [APA] 2010 Stress in America survey. The survey is part of the APA’s Mind/Body Health public education campaign. “Year after year, nearly three-quarters of Americans say they experience stress at levels that exceed what they define as healthy, putting themselves at risk for developing chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. People are also saying they have difficulty implementing the changes they know will decrease their stress and improve their health,” says Norman B. Anderson, PhD, APA’s chief executive officer and executive vice president.
Another notable finding from the survey is that parents are underestimating the impact their own stress has on their children. More than two-thirds of parents of teens and tweens say their stress has slight or no impact on their children. In contrast, only 14% of children report that they are not bothered by their parents’ stress. Psychologist Katherine C. Nordal PhD, APA’s executive director for professional practice, says, “It’s critical that parents communicate with their children about how to identify stress triggers and manage stress in healthy ways while they’re young and still developing behavioral patterns. If children don’t learn these lessons early on, it could significantly impact their physical health and emotional well-being down the road.” To read the full report, go to www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/index.aspx.