And according to a survey run by online healthcare portal CareDash, Americans are turning that anxiety into bad habits: 41 percent of people aged 18 to 44 say they’ve turned to unhealthy behaviors like drinking alcohol, smoking, or eating poorly to cope with the election outcome.Steven Stosny, Ph.D., a couples therapist in the Washington, DC area who partnered with CareDash for the survey, calls it “election stress disorder,” a phenomena where the emotional “toddler” brain takes over the impulse control “adult” brain, resulting in resentment toward those close to us. He coined the term for what he thought was a temporary thing, assuming that these feelings would abate soon after the election.“I predicted that it would take until Christmas to wear off,” Stosny says, “so my prediction was totally wrong.”He now calls it “headline stress disorder” as a byproduct of the 24-hour news cycle and social media. Our constant connection to the news and the rapidfire way it’s shared ratchets up stress levels by inundating us with stories that provoke anger, fear, and frustration. “The headlines would cause anxiety for anybody,” he says.
Our constant connection to the news and the rapidfire way it’s shared ratchets up stress levels by inundating us with stories that provoke anger, fear, and frustration. “The headlines would cause anxiety for anybody,” he says.
“Alcoholic beverages are a way to calm down the anxiety… Of course, too much of it turns out to be a depressant. [But] that first drink calms you down. Alcohol [consumption] increase goes with any popular tension."
Borgesi said she finds herself staying up later than normal watching MSNBC—and she’s utilizing those extra minutes of awake time with another glass of wine. “Will it eventually cause a problem for me?” Borgesi, a bank compliance officer, asks. “I guess I should keep it in check. [I don’t do this] every night either, but it’s most nights.”Curt Fox, too, watches more news coverage with a beer in hand in the wake of the election and the Trump administration. The 55-year-old is active on social media and claims to do a lot of “pissing people off” on those platforms. The confidence boost that comes with that extra beer paired with the content of the programs he’s watching provides the Marlton, NJ-based technical engineer with enough ammunition to draft some fiery Facebook statuses.“If it’s a Friday night, I’ll sit there with Bill Maher on, who gets on my nerves as well, and I’m going to be probably more poignant and acerbic when I post things if I hadn’t had a drink or two,” Fox says.
“For the most part, people needed parties,” AnnaLiisa, 30, says. “They needed places to go to let out frustrations and feel as though they owned something that was theirs. We needed to reclaim something.”Though it would seem that many would imbibe alcohol to relinquish some sense of control, the political climate has inspired many to seek authority over something in their lives—the power to feel safe in a club, or the confidence to post a status on Facebook that you would’ve deleted otherwise.Fox says he’s even become more empathetic, especially towards those who have been impacted by the decisions of the current administration, with another drink in his system. Which is maybe what the world needs a little more of right now.“I don’t run from that. I like being able to say I can look at the situation from someone else's point of view,” Fox says. “For me to tear up about something, [it’s] after I’ve had a couple of drinks… even a beer or two is enough to get teared up about something. I become more emotionally in tune that way.”