Stress, and drinking to cope, on the rise in Britain

More than half of British adults say their life is more stressful than five years ago, with money and work topping the list of anxieties, and people are now three times more likely to turn to alcohol rather than their GP to help them deal with their stress, a charity has warned.

The research by the Mental Health Foundation found that almost half of the adults polled revealed they feel stressed every day, with nearly a quarter saying every few days.

A total of 59% of respondents said their life was generally more stressful than it was five years ago.

Money (26%) and work-related issues (28%) were cited as the main causes of stress and anxiety for more than half of those who said they felt stressed.

When asked for their top three ways to deal with their stress, 41% of respondents said they spent time alone, closely followed by talking to partners, family and friends about it and spending time on hobbies. But 18% found that drinking alcohol cut stress levels, and 10% found smoking helpful, against just 6% who said they would consider visiting a GP or medical professional for their stress-related issues.

Almost half of respondents said they found it more difficult to sleep as a result of their stress, while feeling short tempered and irritable was also common, as well as “feeling tired all the time” and “finding it hard to switch off”.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Andrew McCulloch said more non-hospital-based solutions were one answer, and this included workplace-based solutions.

“We must invest in less costly, more effective early intervention services for people experiencing this type of stress instead of waiting for people’s distress and symptoms to require a hospital admission,” he added.

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