Despite facing a number of national tragedies, natural disasters and the worst recession since the Great Depression, most American adults
are not as stressed as they were in previous years.
This is not the case for those in the Millennial generation, or adults ages 18 to 33. According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, young adults have the highest levels of stress among Americans.
While the average stress level (on a 10-point scale) in the U.S. is 4.9, for Millennials it’s 5.4. An even more alarming fact: higher percentages of young adults in this generation say they have been diagnosed with depression (19 percent) and anxiety (12 percent).
Many Millennials are either attending college or trying to find a place in the job market — while paying off student loans — and are forced to move back in with their parents. These issues are just few of many that plague the minds of college students.
“Stress, like all parts of our health, is very unique to individuals,” said Sara Martin, a health promotion specialist at GatorWell Health Promotion Service.
“Being in the college environment and having so much on the to-do list, as far as classes, assignments, studying and tests, and then being a part of student organizations – when you put everything together, it can feel very stressful and overwhelming for students.”
Some students aren’t too surprised by the survey results. Kevin Blackman, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering at UF, said he normally has a full workload.
“I’d say the sheer volume of work the average student gets on a day to day basis is probably what stresses out most students in my age bracket,” Blackman said. “Compared to a full-time job, which is 40 hours per week, a student looks at about 14 hours of class, with around 12 hours of homework, if they are lucky.”
According to the survey, 39 percent of young adults say their stress has increased in the past year, while 50 percent admit stress has kept them awake at night in the past month.
That this age group is so much more stressed than others could be attributed to age, according to Dr. Gary Geffken.
“As you age, you may develop sophisticated coping strategies,” said Geffken, who is the chief of the Division of Medical Psychology and Psychiatry at UF&Shands. “Anxiety and stress are natural. You need to develop ways to deal with those stressors.
The survey also showed some positives, such as a decline in the percentage of Americans who reported extreme stress (from 24 percent in 2010 to 20 percent) and a decline in unhealthy coping strategies, such as drinking and overeating.
Experts suggest a number of ways for young adults to reduce their stress, including exercise and talking with friends. Candace Kellom, a first-year journalism student at Santa Fe College, said her faith helps in reducing her stress when she feels overwhelmed by school.
“The way I manage my stress has a lot to do with me personal moral belief system,” said Kellom, 19. “I pray, take a deep breath and remember even superheros have limits.”