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November 19, 2016
by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

PETSD: A Real Condition Warranting Clinical Attention

November 19, 2016 17:38 by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

Feeling blue from all the post-election drama?

You are not alone.

Presidential elections have always known to cause some anxiety and stress but the effects of this past election appear to be much more profound and pervasive.  

The level of stress people are experiencing is not merely reactionary but almost traumatizing.

It is actually manifesting in myriad symptoms causing physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual concerns.

The lingering response to the post-election mayhem has rapidly become a new global epidemic.

Beyond Feeling Blue

The extent to which this election has affected people both here in the U.S. and around the world is palpable in an unprecedented way.

Medical experts have determined the ensuing effects to be deleterious with some grave health consequences and even identified them as symptoms of a clinical condition called Post-Election Traumatic Stress Disorder (PETSD).

People suffering from PETSD often report bouts of depression, anxiety/panic attacks, insomnia, heart/chest pain, high blood pressure, and blood sugar disturbances among other physical and mental health issues.

Health professionals posit that the condition is real and serious, warranting clinical attention and treatment.

It is further noted that people with any existing physical and/or mental conditions may be more susceptible to the post-election-induced stress which is not likely to subside soon.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 52 percent of Americans have reported feeling stress over the election outcome with 23 percent rating their stress as serious as evidenced by some form of physical and/or emotional disturbances (Barone, 2016).

Many are also reportedly having ongoing sense of restlessness, headaches, constant uneasiness, and nervousness.

Based on these reports, the symptoms of PETSD should not be minimized nor should they be ignored, however and to whatever degree they are experienced.

How To Recover

The election may be behind us but people are still living its aftermath. For many, this historic event has wreaked havoc, causing a deep sense of disconnect, fear, anger as well as sadness coupled with confusion and anxiety.   

Albeit situation-specific and circumstantially derived, the ramifications of PETSD constitute a collective trauma and must not be regarded simply as a fleeting reaction to a life event.

As with any physical and/or mental condition, it is important to seek professional help without trying to self-diagnose or self-cure.

Any traumatic events require requisite time to process, understand, and heal.

It would be critical to allow ample time to both individually and collectively grieve and mourn any sense of loss that might have transpired out of the experience.

During these delicate times, it is equally important for people to reach out to their support system and stay connected with their loved ones. Communing in the feelings of vulnerability with friends and families can often help facilitate and even expedite healing and recovery.

Implication

The world has been badly shaken up again.

This time, what we are facing is not just a bad news but a complicated grief and loss affecting many across the board.

In the wake of the rising protests here in the U.S. and around the world, we are once again called to join in the spirit of solidarity and resolve as one humanity.

As witnessed many times before, what’s stronger than any of these adversities and vicissitudes of life is the human nature to bounce back.  However bad it may seem and feel right now, there’s still a glimpse of hope and faith in the resilient human nature to rise above it and keep marching on – as we always have.

Reference

Barone, P. November 16, 2016. HealthZette. Post-Election Stress Disorder:No Joke. Retrieved from http://www.lifezette.com/healthzette/post-election-stress-disorder-no-joke/

About the Author

Dr. Agnes Oh Dr. Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

Dr. Agnes Oh is dually licensed as a clinical psychologist and a marriage and family therapist in the state of California, fully committed to helping each individual to maximize his/her intrinsic potential to heal, grow, and thrive.

Dr. Agnes Oh has a clinical practice in Glendale, CA

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