In the first-ever historical comparison of stress levels across the US, researchers have now determined what many of us have suspected: adults are a lot more stressed out now than they were just 25 years ago.

Carnegie Mellon University analyzed data from more than 6,300 people between 1983 and 2009, finding a 10 to 30 percent increase in stress in almost every demographic category. Specifically, stress went up 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men.

And while women, people with lower incomes and those with less education were more likely to be stressed, the stress levels for white, middle-aged men with college degrees and full-time jobs — those most affected by the economic downturn — were almost double that of any other group.

David Spiegel, director of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford University School of Medicine, said the results aren’t surprising, adding that when you compare the early 1980s to today, “economic pressures are greater, it’s harder to turn off information, and it’s harder to buffer ourselves from the world.”

But there is a silver lining: the older we get, the less stressed we tend to be — perhaps because with experience, we learn what’s really worth worrying about.

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