A leading doctor has raised concerns about the growing number of British adults who are suffering “sustained and relentless” stress.
Dr Martin Baggaley, medical director, South London and Maudsley Trust, warned that prolonged stress can lead to long-term medical and physical illnesses after a poll found that many have been feeling stressed for more than a year.
He said there is a growing problem of long-term stress in Britain.
The survey found that more than two fifths of (44%) of British adults admit that they are currently going through a period of stress.
Of these, 28% said they have been feeling this way for more than a year, the Bupa survey found.
And more than a quarter said they feel regularly close to “breaking point”.
The poll of 10,000 adults also found that stress was most pertinent to 45 to 54 year olds - with half of people in this age group admitting they are feeling stressed - and least prevalent in people over the age of 55 - with only 38% saying they are currently stressed.
More women than men also admitted to feeling the strain, with 49% of women and 39% of men saying they feel stressed.
Dr Baggaley said: “There is a growing problem of long-term stress in this country, which needs to be addressed.
“This research shows stress is extremely common in this country. While low-level and irregular bouts of stress can be beneficial and manageable, it’s concerning to see that so many people are experiencing sustained and relentless stress.
“If left unchecked for a prolonged period of time, stress can cause much more serious, long-term mental and physical illnesses such as anxiety and depression, and be a contributing factor in health problems such as heart disease and even obesity.
“It’s important that people realise that stress is not just something that you have to put up with. If you recognise that you are under unusual pressure, try self-help techniques - for example deep breathing, taking exercise and avoiding unhealthy behaviours - these can all make a real difference and help you to feel back in control.
“If self-help isn’t having an effect, or if you’re concerned about your stress levels or feeling very anxious, you should always talk to your GP or a healthcare professional.”
Are you able to Speak Out Safely? Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS.