How to deal with the mounting stress of the election

November 2, 2020

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The presidential election is just days away and if you're tense, anxious or just exhausted from it all, you're not alone.

"Very stressed, super-nervous, scared," shared Marty Hagerty of Cinnaminson of her emotional state. She said she continues to pace in her home as the presidential election nears. With two pre-existing medical conditions, the issues have weighed heavily on her mind.

"What might happened to the Affordable Care Act, I'm nervous about," she said. "I'm not sleeping great. I watch too much TV."

Penn Medicine clinical psychologist Thea Gallagher said Hagerty is not alone. "We're realizing that there's symptoms of anxiety and depression that are triggered by the election," she reported. "It's really a clinical disorder at this point."

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, about 70% of U.S. adults say this election is a big source of stress for them.

"We know that in 2016 people reported an increase in anxiety and depression, and now we can only imagine it's that much more polarized," she said. "We also have a global pandemic, the social unrest and all of these issues have become political issues."

Gallagher said even when you align politically with a friend or loved one, when you're talking about these topics it doesn't mean you won't be anxious or stressed.

"A lot of people are finding that they are engaging in catastrophic thinking," she added. "If their candidate is not elected, they're worried about what will happen to the future, what will happen in their lives."

One suggestion is steering your mind towards other things happening.

"Whatever it is that takes your mind of what's happening right now is the answer," advised Gallagher. "For me, it's a good book, it's a walk."

She continued, "We have to get used to tolerating the uncertainty, staying in the moment, focusing on what we can control. All we can do at this point is vote."

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