It’s a time of high anxiety in the United States, but all that distress isn’t spread equally among us.
The 11th annual “Stress in America” report by the American Psychological Association, published Nov. 1 (pdf), found that women tended to report higher levels of stress than men this August. They rated themselves on average of 5.1 out of 10 for their overall stress levels, while men rated themselves at a 4.4.
The gap between genders is growing ever so slightly from the year before, when men rated their stress an average 4.6 and women rated themselves an average 5. And for the decade that the survey on over 3,400 participants has been conducted, women have been more stressed in general.
This is the first year that the APA has asked respondents to rate their stress over hate crimes, international conflict and terrorism. Women reported significantly higher stress levels than men: Compared with a quarter of male respondents, over a third of women said they were worried about the rise of hate crimes, terrorism and war.
We have a few ideas why this might be the case. Perhaps the stress comes from the public resurgence of white supremacy and violent demonstrations that occurred this summer in Charlottesville and other cities across the country. Perhaps it’s the sexual harassment and misconduct that have been happening for years across all sorts of industries, including Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and within the media. Perhaps it’s the horrific shootings and terrorist attacks that keep happening across the globe, most recently in lower Manhattan just yesterday. Perhaps it’s the rising tensions between the US and North Korea and the looming threat of nuclear war—although notably, the APA survey this year did not ask specifically about the effect of Donald Trump’s presidency.
In this year’s iteration of the survey, researchers asked people how they felt about the future of the country in general. In total, they found that 63% of Americans said they’re really worried, and 59% said that it’s the lowest point in the US’s history they can remember. In addition to hate crimes and war, people reported being stressed about healthcare, the economy, and their jobs.