It’s no secret: Americans are stressed. Layoffs and other economic-related woes top the list of stressors—and new research shows that geography plays a role in both stress and depression.

A study slated for the June 2009 issue of the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine” shows certain geographic areas have consistently high or consistently low rates of frequent mental distress.

Frequent mental distress is defined as having 14 or more days in the previous month when stress, depression and emotional problems were present.

The adult prevalence of frequent mental distress was 9.4 percent overall. Hawaiians are least stressed, with a 6.6 percent prevalence of frequent mental distress, while people living in Kentucky suffer from a 14.4 percent prevalence of frequent mental distress.

Previous studies have found that massage therapy reduces stress and enhances well-being.

“Because FMD often indicates potentially unmet health and social service needs, programs for public health, community mental health and social services whose jurisdictions include areas with high FMD levels should collaborate to identify and eliminate the specific preventable sources of this distress,” said Dr. Matthew M. Zack, the study’s lead investigator.

In March MASSAGE Magazine reported on two studies: One that showed the current economic challenges are creating stress within American workplaces and families; and one that showed massage therapy reduced stress symptoms in nurses.

Research published in the April issue of MASSAGE Magazine shows increased job satisfaction and decreased severity of pain were the two main benefits of employer-funded massage therapy for a group of long-term care workers.

The complete article is available from the journal’s publisher, Elsevier.