Was 2017 a stressful year for you? Well, you weren’t alone. According to new Medibank research(1), the incidence of stress peaked this year, with the number of Australians affected rising from 3.7 million 2007-08 to over 4.9 million in 2016-17.
The cause of our stress
The research(2) revealed lack of sleep was self-reported as a key contributor to Australians’ rising stress levels in 2017 (44 per cent), with other leading factors including juggling too many things (36 per cent) and pressures at work (39 per cent). Wider economical, societal and political flux also played a role, with housing affordability (17 per cent), pressures from social media (12 per cent), and the global political climate (11 per cent) causing stress for many.
The impact of stress of on our relationships
The majority of Australians surveyed felt stress not only impacted their sleep (62 per cent), but their social relationships as well. Fifty two per cent admitted they became irritable with loved ones and colleagues, 36 per cent felt reluctant to take part in social activities, and 18 per cent felt they were unable to be ‘there’ for family members, due to the stress they were experiencing.
Commenting on the findings, Medibank Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan said,
“It’s clear 2017 has been a tough year for many, with both personal and wider societal pressures being the major contributors to our stress. That’s why it’s essential we do everything we can to take care of our mental wellbeing, and continue to look out for one another as we enter a new year."
The impact of stress on our mental health
The research(3) also found those affected by stress were more likely to suffer from mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks, when compared to the general population,. And while there’s still a lot to learn about the link between stress and the immune system, these findings suggest that the ability to fight off infection may be lowered by ongoing stress, and that the incidence of headaches may be higher amongst those experiencing stress.