People around the world felt more sad, angry, worried, or stressed in 2020 than they had in the previous 15 years – with Iraqis experiencing the most negative emotion, according to a Gallup poll published on Tuesday.
The poll ranked Iraq’s overall negative experience index at 53 – significantly higher than the global level of 32. People in Lebanon felt the second-highest level of negative emotion.
Results were collected by asking adults in 115 countries if they had experienced worry, stress, sadness, anger, or physical pain on the day before the survey.
In 2020, Iraqis led the world in experiencing pain (56 percent), anger (51 percent) and sadness (50 percent). Iraq also topped the list for 2019 with an overall negative experience index score of 51.
The country has been racked with unrest since anti-government protests began in October 2019 and continued throughout the following year.
Its economy was also hard-hit by the pandemic, with GDP shrinking rapidly by 10.4 percent, according to the World Bank.
Global stress levels increased by five percent from 2019, while anger rose by two, and worry and sadness went up by one percent.
While people’s experiences of negative emotion were already at or near record highs in 2019, they set new records in 2020.
No other year in recent history was more stressful; the five percent jump in stress levels represents nearly 190 million more people feeling stressed out, according to the survey.
Stress levels were highest in Peru, at 66 percent, while Kyrgyzstan had the lowest level with 13 percent.
The survey’s authors say the COVID-19 pandemic is not the sole cause for the world’s emotional state, as global levels of negative emotion had been on a rise for nearly a decade.
Some areas are seeing an emotional rebound, however, with people in the US rating their emotions at pre-pandemic levels in 2021.