Election Stress

Goals

To find impactful statistics related to the election's impact on mental health decline in trhe US.

Early Findings

  • Leading up the election, many Americans are worried about COVID-19. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53% of adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus.
  • According to a Lifestance Health poll, 1 in 4 Americans report feeling "rage", and 58% are worried about the upcoming election. 26% also expect civil unrest to get worse.
  • Choosing Therapy reports that more than half of Americans feel that elections are "significant" or "very significant" sources of stress in their lives.
  • A 2019 poll by the American Psychological Association found the top 3 sources of stress among American adults to be concern about mass shootings, health care and the political climate. More than 60% said they see politics/politicians as a direct source of stress in their lives and 56% said elections directly stress them out.
  • Even in 2019, one year before the presidential election, reported stress levels were up 4% from 2016 (the last election year).
  • Heathline found that some people feel stressed during elections because their political opinions are the opposite of friends or family.
  • Election stress can also lead to further anxiety, as many cannot afford appropriate therapy or treatment for their elevated levels of anxiety.
  • A research study following the 2016 election published in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health journal, concluded that 14-24 year olds experienced elevated emotions both before and after, with females reporting a higher prevalence of emotional and physical effects. The most common responses were stress, anxiety, worry, fear and disappointment. Some respondents also reported insomnia and reduced levels of concentration.
  • One therapist has gone as far as to name election-year stress as "election stress disorder" in his patients. Dr. Steven Stosny said the body is flooded with cortisol when it becomes overwhelmed with the 24/7 news cycle.
  • Dr. Stosny also reports that affected persons are letting their election stress affect personal relationships. "He says, 'And the way that most people deal with anxiety is to blame it on someone, and unfortunately the law of blame is it will eventually go to the closest person — your partner or children.' Stosny said the main traits he has observed in patients with election stress disorder are resentment, hostility and 'devaluing.' 'They don't just disagree' with people around them, he said, but they 'devalue as they disagree.'"
  • Furthermore, ESD is being exacerbated this year in particular due to many factors outside people's personal control, such as COVID-19, civil unrest and wildfires.
  • Dr. Stosny also feels that many Americans feel the 2016 election "never really ended" and people are still feeling an emotional "hangover" from it.
  • Even back in February, 47% of workers believed the 2020 election was actually distracting them from doing their jobs.
  • Democrats are using the elevated levels of stress and anxiety in Americans this year as a campaigning tool. One TV ad for Biden says, "Remember when you didn't have to think about the President every single day?" Biden and running mate Harris have both pledged less anxiety for the average American if elected.

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