December 30, 2008 / 12:39 AM / 10 years ago

Soaring cost of living tops UK worry index

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is becoming a nation of worriers, according to a new survey, with the financial crisis giving people ever more reason to fret about their lives.

A man covers his face at his desk in this 2004 file photo. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The average Briton now spends 2-1/4 hours of every day worrying — six and half years of the average life span — a figure up 30 minutes a day from last year, according to the worry index compiled by, a support group.

Young adults — those aged between 16 and 24 — worry the most, and women worry substantially more than men, according to the survey of 1,400 people nationwide.

The top five concerns in 2008 were: the cost of living, energy prices, personal health, outgoings and income, and personal debt.

Job security, which last year didn’t figure in the top 25 worries, shot up to number 7 in the rankings, one notch below recession and a bigger concern than crime.

So much fretting can take a terrible toll on people’s health and their sex lives, according to the survey’s compilers.

One in five Britons questioned said they drowned their concerns in drink, up 50 percent on last year. One in six said they now shy away from sex because of their constant fretting.

“It is alarming to learn from this research just how many people in Britain are chronic worriers,” said Phillip Hodson, a member of the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy.

“Worry is the central component of all anxiety disorders and most depression. It is a sign of a double difficulty — that we cannot get our problems into perspective nor take effective action to solve them.”

Reflecting a national characteristic for not unburdening on others, nearly 40 percent of Britons say they keep their worries to themselves, with less than a third discussing them with a partner.

“The research shows that most people in Britain are really worried,” said Richard Rubin, the founder of

“Whether it’s about something monumental like facing home repossession, or something relatively simple to sort out such as changing energy suppliers.”

Reporting by Luke Baker; editing by Kate Kelland

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