New study shows Americans are learning to cope with stress

(NBC) – The stress levels of Americans have fallen in recent years, but that doesn't mean we're any less stressed out. We're just getting used to it.

It's no surprise that money is the number one source of stress in America. The economy has improved little since 2007 when the American Psychological Association first started analyzing stress levels in the U.S.

"75% say it's money," said Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs. "70% say it's work."

But you may be surprised to learn that since then, despite the sagging economy, America's overall stress levels have improved. That's according to the group's latest report, released at a public forum in Washington on Wednesday.

"The decline that you see is really from that extreme high back in 2007," said Norman Anderson, Ph.D, of the American Psychological Association

Stress is a more consistent part of life now and experts think we're simply getting used to it.

While a majority of surveyed Americans say the economy and work are major stressors, more than half also pointed the finger at relationships and family responsibilities.

But it's possible one group could cause stress levels to rise once more. Caregivers are one of the country's most stressed out groups because they are facing the pressure of caring for sick loved ones often as well as their own financial and physical concerns.

"When you go into the healthcare system, the focus is always on the person on the person with the illness," said Suzanne Bennett Johnson, Ph.D., of the American Psychological Association. "Of course that's important. But it's as if no one bothers to ask the caregiver anything."

The number of those having to take care of extended family members is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years as the baby boomer population ages.

Chronic illnesses like depression and obesity are also sizable stressors and often contribute to a vicious cycle. Stress itself affects us physically, even making us more prone to illnesses.

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