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10 Nov, 2013

Psychological survey reveals stress levels rising in Australia


A new survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has revealed Australians are experiencing increased levels of stress and reduced wellbeing in the past 12 months.

The Stress and Wellbeing in Australia 2013: A state-of-the-nation survey– released today to mark the start of National Psychology Week (10 – 16 November) -looked at the stress and wellbeing for Australians across the nation, including those in regional areas, revealing that levels of stress and distress as well as anxiety and depressive symptoms had significantly increased across Australia.

Almost one in seven Australians reported depressive symptoms in the severe to extremely severe range and more than one in ten Australians reported anxiety symptoms in the severe to extremely severe range. In addition, the top five sources of stress included personal financial issues (52%), family issues (47%), personal health issues (43%), issues with maintaining a healthy lifestyle (41%) and issues with the health of close acquaintances (38%).

Professor Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the APS, said the survey provided a picture of how Australians were faring and highlighted areas of concern.

“Stress can take a serious toll on people, affecting their mental health, social relationships, physical health and work performance; so it’s vital for communities to stay informed about these health trends and to proactively and collectively support their residents in managing stress.”

She added: “From a community and policy perspective it is important to identify the specific factors contributing to stress in both urban and regional areas, and from an individual perspective it is important to provide people in the first instance with practical strategies they can use to manage stress, followed by pathways to professional help if that is needed.”

More than 70% of Australians reported that current stress was having at least some impact on physical health, with almost 1 in 5 of these Australians reporting that current stress was having a strong to very strong impact on their physical health.

The Australian Psychological Society advocates a few important measures to help people identify and manage stress, which include identifying warning signs and triggers, establishing routines, keeping healthy, noticing negative ‘self-talk’ and practising relaxation

“National Psychology Week is an excellent opportunity for people to take time out and assess if stress is having a negative impact in their lives. Psychologists are a trusted source of professional help if people are feeling over-stressed and are struggling to manage, so there is a lot to be gained by reaching out for advice,” said Professor Littlefield.

Other important findings from the survey included:

  • Young Australian adults (aged 18-25 years) continued to report much higher levels of stress and distress compared with older Australians (aged 66-75 years);
  • Almost 1 in 7 Australians reported depressive symptoms in the severe to extremely severe range;
  • Personal finance issues remained the leading cause of stress among Australians;
  • 1 in 3 Australians identified issues in the workplace as a source of stress;

To access detailed advice about managing stress, you may view the APS tip-sheet here.

Signs of stress include:

  • Sleep disturbance, insomnia
  • Upset stomach
  • Anxiety
  • Anger, irritability
  • Depressive
  • Feeling overwhelmed, out of control
  • Fatigue

Tips for managing stress 

  • Spend time with people who care about you and share your feelings
  • Notice negative self-talk “I can’t cope”, “I’m too tired”
  • Identify triggers, situations that make you stressed and try to avoid them
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet and stay well-nourished
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs
  • Get enough sleep

For more stress information and tips to: http://www.psychology.org.au/NPW/stresstips/