Gun violence. A recession. Climate change. The Russia-Ukraine war. The midterm elections. While the majority of Americans are anxious about each of these issues, one topic in the news rose above the rest last year: inflation.
This is according to data from the American Psychiatric Association’s Healthy Minds Monthly Poll, which included a question each month from June through December on how anxious Americans felt about a list of trending current events. Each of the polls was fielded online by Morning Consult to a group of more than 2,000 American adults.
Top current events inspiring worry
When asked to indicate whether each of a series of eight current events made them somewhat or very anxious, respondents ranked these as their top issues:
- Inflation: chosen consistently by four out of five Americans (79% in the lowest month and 87% in the highest month)
- Recession: chosen consistently since July by three out of four Americans (started at 49% in the lowest month, June, but jumped to 77% in July and continued at a high ranking)
- Gun violence: chosen consistently by two-thirds of Americans (65% lowest, 70% highest)
Other issues that Americans rated anxiety-inducing in polling this year were the Russia-Ukraine war (56% lowest and 63% highest), climate change (52% lowest and 60% highest), the future of reproductive rights (48% lowest and 56% highest) and the midterm elections (47% lowest and 56% highest). In December, the issue of hate speech and hate crimes was added and 61% of Americans indicated they were anxious about it.
Americans’ ongoing anxiety around COVID-19 has been decreasing in recent months. Only in August did the majority of Americans (54%) report that the pandemic made them somewhat or very anxious. Nearing 2023’s end, only 45% reported being anxious about COVID-19.
Black and Hispanic viewpoints
Black Americans and Hispanic Americans both identified the issues of inflation, a recession and gun violence as the top three sources of anxiety.
However, among some issues, the opinions of these groups diverged from the views held by Americans adults overall. The Black community ranked several issues as higher causes of anxiety:
- Climate change (52% lowest and 69% highest).
- The future of reproductive rights (46% lowest and 67% highest).
- COVID-19 (47% lowest to 69% highest).
Hispanic Americans also rated climate change (55% lowest to 76% highest) as a bigger cause of anxiety than all adults. Black and Hispanic Americans views on hate crimes also differed from adults overall, with 68% of Black Americans and 55% of Hispanics expressing anxiety over the issue.
What to do if you are anxious about current events
Many Americans report coping with anxiety about current events by taking breaks from news consumption or social media, talking with family and friends, and taking action when it is feasible.
“Americans are dealing with many stressors all at the same time,” said APA President Rebecca W. Brendel, M.D., J.D. “Inflation directly affects people every day in every aspect of our lives and there is little respite. It’s no surprise that it is causing so much stress as Americans struggle to make ends meet.”
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