Across both sides of the political divide, election season is affecting our mental health

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Election season is taking a toll on mental health with experts saying more Americans are suffering significant stress.

A recent News 8 Twitter poll shows of the 83 people who responded, 45% say they are experiencing election stress with 9% saying they know someone who is.

Kristine Chapleau, Ph.D., HSPP is a clinical psychologist in Indianapolis who says more of her patients are citing the election as an additional stressor to existing mental health issues.

“This is a national crisis. There is a lot at stake, and people are feeling that,” said Chapleau.

Chapleau says while not a clinical term, election stress disorder was coined after the divided 2016 election. Uncertainty on issues like the pandemic, Affordable Care Act and environmental abnormalities are only adding to that stress.

Symptoms of election stress disorder include having a sense of worry, increased irritability, feeling argumentative and checking social media for the latest election updates.

Chapleau says our bodies like to feel good so instead of turning to a temporary fix to cope, she suggests starting with things you can control.

“We can vote, we can call our senators to make our voices heard, we can journal even for 15 minutes a day,” said Chapleau adding that turning off news notifications can help shed the burden of too much information.

“I think the question is what would you do with that information once you got it? What’s the plan.? If all it does is it just sits with you and there is nothing you can do with it because it’s not your job then I don’t see how it’s helpful,” Chapleau said.

With two weeks until Nov. 3, Chapleau stresses that worrying about a possible outcome today isn’t productive.

“We might not know who wins on election day, so prepare yourself for that. Take your mind off the election. You can still be informed without being all in all the time,” Chapleau adds.

Election stress is similar to any other stress in that it can lead to chronic stress, sleep issues and even heart problems.

There are several crisis hotlines available for anyone feeling stress or anxiety including, Be Well Indiana. Simply call 2-1-1.