Mental health professionals see many cases of depression, anxiety, and stress. While the causes vary from patient to patient, recently there’s been an increase in commonality between these cases. New York-based, Prakash Masand M.D., a psychiatrist says rarely does someone not bring up politics or the leadership of America.
“At least 75-80% of our patients show real concern, worry and even physical symptoms over politics right now,” Dr. Masand says. “Post-election stress has been a real problem for many Americans and even suicide and crisis hotlines increased staffing. It’s not always the main cause for someone coming to see us, but it is an underlying part of their depression or anxiety that therapists are now having to address.”
Dr. Masand says if you’re having real distress (missing work, less enthusiastic for pleasurable activities, feelings of hopelessness and constant worry) you should definitely see a psychologist or psychiatrist. For others who are just slightly bothered, he says to:
- Turn it off: Stop watching the news or reading about politics. Unless it specifically pertains to your job or something in your life, take a break from it all and go about your normal activities.
- Politely decline political conversations: When people want to discuss politics just say “no.” Politely change the conversation and talk about something else like work, your kids, pets or a recent vacation.
- Find better ways to vent your frustrations: Instead of soaking it all in and letting it fester, find better ways to release your emotions. Exercise or anything that gets your heart rate up and blood pumping is a great stress reliever and can increase “feel-good” chemical in the brain. Stay away from alcohol or drugs.
- Talk about it in moderation: While some people may need to ignore the topic all together, it can be helpful to discuss your feelings with someone, be it a close friend or loved one. Sometimes simply getting it off your chest can make you feel better on its own.
- Slow down your breathing: When people get frustrated or upset they tend to breathe quickly and this makes their physical symptoms even worse. Take a few minutes to slow your breathing. Focus on breathing in through your diaphragm (stomach area) and slowly exhale through your lips.
- Engage in pleasurable activities: If you’re feeling down, try and incorporate more fun or pleasurable activities into your daily routine. Spend more time with friends and people you genuinely like. Go to the movies. Plan a weekend getaway. Eat at your favorite restaurant. Lose yourself in a good book. Listen to some upbeat music that makes you feel good. Have more sex, responsibly that is.
- Back a candidate you believe in for 2020: Before you know it, the 2020 race for the White House and many other political positions will be here. Find a candidate you support and would like to see in office and volunteer with his or her campaign.
Prakash Masand M.D., is Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Global Medical Education (GME) and also serves as Adjunct Professor at the Academic Medicine Education Institute, Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School (Duke-NUS). He is also the Chief Scientific Officer at the Institute for Advanced Medical Research. He was also Consulting Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. He previously served as Director of Therapeutic Area Development, Neurosciences Medicine at the Duke Clinical Research Institute. Dr. Masand was also the Founder of psychCME, Inc., a leading program for continuing medical education in the United States, which was acquired by United Health Group, in 2006.