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If the midterm elections are stressing you out, you're not alone mental health experts say

Democratic nominee Wes Moore and Republican nominee Dan Cox are both vying to become Maryland's next governor.
Screenshot from WBAL-TV
Democratic nominee Wes Moore and Republican nominee Dan Cox are both vying to become Maryland's next governor.

It’s Election Day on Tuesday across the nation and results from midterm political races are likely to roll in this week. If you’re having digestive issues or feel like you’re out of control this week, you’re not alone and politics are to blame. Medical experts say this is called Election Stress Disorder and it’s causing stress and anxiety regardless of political affiliation.

About 68% of people said they felt stressed out by the 2020 November election, up from 52% in 2016, according to the American Psychological Association, a national professional organization.

This election is likely to bring just as much stress, said one Maryland psychiatrist.

“There's a lot of anxiety just because of the uncertainty in these elections,” said Dr. Stacey Neal, a board-certified psychiatrist in the Baltimore metro area. “People worry about the outcome and how that will affect our lives. For some people, it's actually significant enough to cause a disorder that's affecting how they function in their daily life.”

Symptoms include feeling overwhelmed and out of control, upset stomach, lack of sleep and headaches.

Not everyone experiences the same level of stress.

About 71% of Black Americans said they felt stressed about the 2020 elections, an uptick from 46% who said the same in 2016.

“There's definitely something different about the political climate now,” Neal said. “Just in my clinical practice, I'm seeing more people than ever talk about the election. It’s different than what our parents or grandparents saw in the 1940s or 1950s around the elections.”

Neal said the best way to alleviate the stress from the election is to limit exposure to the steady stream of political news. Turning off smartphone notifications for social media posts about the election and turning off the television are ways to unplug.

Neal also suggested meditation, breathing exercises or taking a walk as a way to diffuse some of the stress.

Scott is the Health Reporter for WYPR. @smaucionewypr
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