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Americans' Stress, Worry and Anger Intensified in 2018

Americans' Stress, Worry and Anger Intensified in 2018

Story Highlights

  • Americans among the most stressed in the world
  • Nearly half (45%) felt worried a lot
  • More than one in five (22%) felt angry a lot

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Even as their economy roared, more Americans were stressed, angry and worried last year than they have been at most points during the past decade. Asked about their feelings the previous day, the majority of Americans (55%) in 2018 said they had experienced stress during a lot of the day, nearly half (45%) said they felt worried a lot and more than one in five (22%) said they felt anger a lot.

Alt text: Line graph. More Americans were stressed, angry and worried in 2018 than at most points in past years.

Each of these figures matches or tops previous highs in the U.S. Additionally, Gallup's latest annual update on the world's emotional state shows Americans were more likely to be stressed and worried than much of the world. In fact, the 55% of Americans who experienced stress was one of the highest rates out of the 143 countries studied and it beat the global average (35%) by a full 20 percentage points. The U.S. even ties statistically with Greece, which has led the world on this measure every year since 2012.

Most Stressed Populations in 2018
Experienced stress a lot yesterday
Greece 59
Philippines 58
Tanzania 57
Albania 55
Iran 55
Sri Lanka 55
United States of America 55
Uganda 53
Costa Rica 52
Rwanda 52
Turkey 52
Venezuela 52
Gallup World Poll, 2018

When it comes to worry, the six-point gap between the U.S. (45%) and the global average (39%) was not nearly as substantial as it was with stress. The U.S. was also far from the top of the list of countries with the largest worried populations. In 29 countries, a majority of people said they worried a lot the previous day, including at least six in 10 in places such as Mozambique (63%), Chad (61%) and Benin (60%).

Most Worried Populations in 2018
Experienced worry a lot yesterday
Mozambique 63
Chad 61
Benin 60
Iran 59
Portugal 59
Cambodia 58
Niger 58
Togo 58
Brazil 57
Guinea 57
Tunisia 57
Gallup World Poll, 2018

And, even though more Americans were angry last year than most years in the past, the 22% who were angry was the same as the global average. Americans, as a whole, were half as likely to be angry as the populations of the Palestinian Territories (43%), Iran (43%), Iraq (44%), and Armenia (45%).

Most Angry Populations in 2018
Experienced anger a lot yesterday
Armenia 45
Iraq 44
Iran 43
Palestinian Territories 43
Morocco 41
Turkey 40
Niger 39
Chad 38
Libya 38
Pakistan 38
Gallup World Poll, 2018

Which Americans Are Most Stressed, Worried or Angry?

Younger Americans between the ages of 15 and 49 are among the most stressed, worried and angry in the U.S. Roughly two in three of those younger than 50 said they experienced stress a lot, about half said they felt worried a lot and at least one in four or more felt anger a lot.

Who is the most stressed, worried and angry?
Among U.S. adults
Stress Worry Anger
% % %
15-29 64 50 32
30-49 65 52 25
50+ 44 38 16
Poorest 20% 68 56 25
Richest 20% 46 41 22
Presidential approval
Approve 45 35 20
Disapprove 62 51 23
Gallup World Poll, 2018

Income also plays a role with worry and stress, with the lowest income Americans carrying more of the emotional burden than the highest income Americans. Nearly seven in 10 Americans in the poorest 20% of the population said they experienced stress the previous day, compared with less than half (48%) of Americans in the richest 20%. Similarly, 56% of Americans in the poorest group said they worried a lot, compared with 41% in the richest group.

And, although Gallup does not ask about political affiliation in its World Poll, there was also a strong relationship between stress, worry and disapproval of the job that President Donald Trump is doing. Those who disapprove of Trump's job performance are significantly more likely to experience each of these negative emotions than those who do.

Bottom Line

The world took a negative turn in 2017, with global levels of stress, worry, sadness and pain hitting new highs. During a solid year of economic growth, the U.S. kept this negative trend going into 2018. Higher levels of stress, anger and worry nudged Americans' overall Negative Experience Index to 35 -- three points higher than any previous score to date.

The disconnect between a strong economy and Americans' increasing negative emotions illustrates how GDP and other hard economic data only tell part of the story. In fact, the levels of negative emotions in the past several years are even higher than during the U.S. recession years. Given the ties that researchers are starting to find between negative affects like these and physical health and longevity, leaders need the whole story.

Read the full Gallup 2019 Global Emotions Report.

Interact with the world's emotions and see how countries compare.

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