HEALTHY LIVING
02/08/2013 02:33 pm ET Updated May 02, 2013

Millennials Are More Stressed Out Than Older Generations: Stress In America Survey

Half of all millennials say their stress keeps them awake at night, according to a recent "Stress in America" survey from the American Psychological Association.

On a 10-point scale, Americans ages 18-33 reported an average stress level of 5.4 compared to the national average of 4.9, and 52 percent said stress made it hard for them to sleep at night in the past month.

"Many of these young people have come out of college or graduate school with horrendous student debt into a job market where there are not very many jobs," Katherine Nordal, executive director for professional practice of the APA, told NBC News. "This has put their life plans, probably, on hiatus."

Work and job stability accounted for the most prominent sources of millennials' stress, which is no surprise considering wages have declined for young Americans and half of recent college graduates are working jobs that don't require a degree, one report found.

The study found that 39 percent of millennials said their stress levels increased in the past year, a higher rate than older generations. Young Americans were more likely to experience irritability or anger due to stress than older people, and more millennials reported being diagnosed with anxiety or depression than their elders, the survey found.

Few said they believe their health care providers offer adequate help for managing their stress.

"Only 23 percent think that their health care provider supports them a 'lot or a great deal' in their desire to make healthy lifestyle and behavior changes, and just 17 percent say the same about their health care providers' support for stress management," said a press release from the APA.

The survey was conducted in August 2012 by Harris Interactive on behalf of the APA, and surveyed 2,020 adults in the U.S.

The good news in the survey: people across generations favor activities other than drinking alcohol or smoking to help them cope with stress. Americans said they turn toward exercise, listening to music, reading or spending time with family and friends to relieve tension.

Another poll from Gallup, released this week, found millennials to be brimming with optimism for the future. Four out of five Americans ages 18-29 who were surveyed said they believe their standard of living is getting better, far more than any other age group and nearly double the rate of 50-64 year-olds who said the same.

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