Denver's Stress Still Higher than Healthy

By American Psychological Association

American Psychological Association

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 - 7:38 am

Copyright 2012 . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

DENVER, Jan. 11, 2012 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Money, work, and the economy are significant causes of stress for residents of the Denver metropolitan area, and stress in Denver is still higher than considered healthy, according to a survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA) and conducted online by Harris Interactive among 279 Denver residents and 1,226 U.S. adults in August and September.

Although stress levels have gone down in Denver since last year, Denver residents still experience higher than healthy stress levels, reporting a stress level of 4.6 on a 10-point scale, compared to 3.5, which they considered healthy. Even with lower reported stress levels, 79 percent of Denver residents cite money as a  significant cause of stress, followed by work at 67 percent and the economy at 68 percent compared to 75 percent (money), 70 percent (work), and 67 percent (the economy) nationally. Stress levels may be adversely affecting Denver residents' health, and 98 percent believe that stress can contribute to the development of disease.

The lowered stress levels of Denver residents is accompanied by 70 percent of residents who report that they are doing enough to manage their stress, more than the nation as a whole (57 percent). To manage their stress, residents report focusing on the positive (58 percent) and avoiding people or situations that cause them stress (51 percent). Forty-three percent of Denver residents recognize the ways a psychologist can assist with stress management, in addition to helping them cope with grief (57 percent) and manage relationship issues (51 percent).

For those who decided to or were recommended to make a lifestyle or behavior change, lack of time and willpower remain the greatest barriers to change for Denver residents – 27 percent cite not having enough willpower or enough time to make the recommended behavior changes. For those who believe willpower is a barrier to making lifestyle changes, forty-two percent of Denver residents cited that more confidence in their ability to make behavior change was necessary to improve their willpower, and 36 percent believe that if they cared more for their health they could change their behaviors. Furthermore, 41 percent of adults report that money would help them improve their willpower.

In terms of job satisfaction, six in 10 Denver residents express satisfaction with work (59 percent) and fewer than half are satisfied with their financial security (45 percent). 

"It's encouraging to see that there is a decline in stress levels in Denver, since we know there is a strong connection between chronic stress and serious health problems," said Denver-area psychologist Dr. Stephanie Smith, the public education coordinator for the Colorado Psychological Association. "People should remember, however, that although stress levels are lower than in previous years, they are still higher than what is considered healthy.  So it's important for people to pay attention to signs of stress and manage them properly."

The national survey found that reported stress levels have stabilized from the highs of the economic crisis; however, they remain higher than what is considered healthy. Furthermore,  Americans who serve as caregivers — providing care to both the aging and chronically ill — for their family members report higher levels of stress, poorer health and a greater tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviors to alleviate that stress than the population at large.

The national survey also found that people suffering from depression or obesity report higher average stress levels than the rest of the population, and are more likely to respond that they are not doing enough to manage their stress.  People who are depressed or obese are more likely that the general population to try eating a healthier diet or taking other steps to reduce stress levels, but are less likely to report success when making health lifestyle changes.

To read the full report on Denver and the United States, visit

Stress in America is part of APA's Mind/Body Health public education campaign. For additional information on stress and lifestyle and behavior, visit and read the campaign blog Join the conversation about stress on Twitter by following @apahelpcenter and #stressAPA.


The Stress in America™ survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between August 11 and September 6, 2011, among 1,226 adults aged 18+ who reside in the U.S.  In addition, an oversample of 279 adults living in the Denver Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was collected. MSAs are a formal definition of metropolitan areas produced by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. These geographic areas are delineated on the basis of central urbanized areas —contiguous counties of relatively high population density. Counties containing the core urbanized area are known as the central counties of the MSA. Additional surrounding counties (known as outlying counties) can be included in the MSA if these counties have strong social and economic ties to the central counties as measured by commuting and employment. Note that some areas within these outlying counties may actually be rural in nature. Because the sample is based on those who were invited and agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. To read the full methodology, visit

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 154,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit


SOURCE American Psychological Association