The Most (and Least) Stressful Places to Live

United States mapWhere you live may affect your mental health. Everyone is familiar with the stereotypical images of the cynical New Yorker and the laid-back Californian, so this may not be such big news. But it turns out New York is not officially the most stressful place to live in the United States, and California, not the most relaxed. So where does your state rank?



According to a study to be published in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Hawaii has the nation's lowest rate of frequent mental distress, or FMD, and Kentucky has the highest. FMD is defined as having 14 or more days in the previous month when stress, depression, and emotional problems were not good.

Combining data from annual large-scale surveys in 1993-2001 and 2003-2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that the adult prevalence of FMD was 9.4% overall, ranging from 6.6% in Hawaii to 14.4% in Kentucky. The prevalence of FMD varied over time and by geographic area within states. The average prevalence from the earlier period to the later period increased by at least one percentage point in 27 states and by more than four percentage points in Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The Appalachian and the Mississippi Valley regions had high and increasing FMD, and the upper Midwest had low and decreasing FMD rates. Over 1.2 million people across the country were randomly surveyed over the phone for the study in both time periods.

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Do you think your state is stressful? Why or why not?

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