Unemployment, pressure to pay bills and unstable romantic relationships also were sited as issues in the first follow-up of the survey last taken in 1991, when 88 percent of U.S. residents said they had experienced at least one miserable life event.
"Those events are associated with and apparently lead to depression and anxiety as well as physical illnesses, such as heart attacks and increased infections," said study author Tom Smith, who is director of the larger General Social Survey.
"Essentially, since experiencing more negative events makes individuals less well off, then, in the aggregate, having more individuals suffering more negative events means society is less well-off," Smith said.
On the bright side, the 1,340 people interviewed for the survey reported fewer problems with the law, civil lawsuits, infertility and going without a car for a month or longer.
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]