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This Year, Only a Quarter of Americans Are Anxious About Political Debates at the Holiday Table; Overall More Are Concerned About Financing the Festivities

  • November 28, 2023

Washington, D.C. — With the holiday season fully underway, about a third of Americans (29%) anticipate being more stressed out than last year. The main source of that stress, however, is not political debate at the dinner table. Among the options tested, Americans named affording holiday gifts (51%), finding and securing holiday gifts (40%), or affording holiday meals (39%) as the top three factors causing them anxiety this season.

Only 25% of the adults polled said that discussing politics or current events with the family caused them to worry, although that number was slightly higher among younger people (34% for those 18-44). Democrats indicated higher worry (31%) than Republicans (25%), and Independents (19%) were least likely to stress out over these conversations.

That said, challenging family dynamics were a source of worry for 37% of Americans, the top factor polled that didn’t have to do with economics. These results come from APA’s latest monthly Healthy Minds Monthly* poll, fielded by Morning Consult Nov. 9-11, 2023, among 2,204 adults.

“Economic burdens have run high in our polling for the past few years as a source of concern, and that makes sense given the challenges we’ve all shared,” said APA President Petros Levounis, M.D., M.A. “Connecting with supportive family and friends is more meaningful to our mental health than the commercial aspects of the season. The kindness with which you treat yourself and those you love during the holiday season is the very best gift you can give.”

A plurality of adults say they are more looking forward to seeing family and friends (44%) during the holiday season, followed by:

  • Eating good food (20%).
  • Taking time off (9%).
  • Giving and receiving gifts (8%).
  • Traveling (6%).
  • Attending festive celebrations (4%).

APA has polled on holiday mental health for the past three years, and many levels of stress have remained consistent. Levels of stress around contracting or spreading COVID-19 (with 33% of Americans indicating it was a worry) have increased since 2022, but are lower than in 2021.

“Tis the season to keep our mental and physical health in mind as we enjoy the festivities,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “It’s tempting to want to do everything, to travel to see everyone, to shop for that very special gift, and to compare ourselves to that very perfect staged family picture we see on social media. But in January, when the holidays come to an end, what will be most important is that you are feeling well, and that will come when you take the occasional breath and have some perspective.”

*APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly tracks timely mental health issues throughout the year, see past Healthy Minds Monthly polls. For a copy of the results, contact [email protected].

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit

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