Are You Sick Of Politics Too? An in-depth view at the Politically Triggered Anxiety and Electoral Stress that’s hitting Indians

With an age old stigma tailing down it’s path, we Indians generally don’t give as much consideration to our mental health for various reasons as compared to those in the West. In any case, there is a possibility that you heft around some stress about the political course of the country.

The world’s largest democracy voted for five assembly elections recently. With 180 million of India’s 1.3 billion people eligible to cast their votes , a larger strata of its overgrowing population heads out to exercise their biggest power in hands to chose from among various political parties jostling for their accession to throne. Some of you may find your anxiety levels all over the place during the election season. Welcome to the world of Politically Triggered Anxiety and Electoral Stress Disorder that’s hitting the Indians hard and fast.

Profoundly polarized worlds of politics will in general raise the feelings of anxiety of those who fall to be most vulnerable and threatened to it. Yet, on a more larger scale, it could likewise affect anyone who’s owns a cell phone in this news on the go age we all live in..

Election Stress Disorder grabbed global media attention during the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential elections . The American Psychological Association revealed in October 2016 that 57% of Americans admitted that the political environment of the nation is “very” or “fairly huge” source of stress in their lives. The high levels of anxiousness was seen linked to a huge partisan campaign between then Democratic Party candidate Hilary Clinton and her rival Republican Party candidate Donald Trump .In April 2016, the survey led by Washington Post-ABC News uncovered that 69% of Americans felt anxious over the apprehension of Donald Trump being elected the President of the United States. Believe it or not, election-related anxiety is real. No matter where you head to-from social networking sites to heated debates on news channels–there is no escaping from highly charged political discussions. This can be particularly torturing if your political philosophy is at crossroads with those close to you. For many individuals, politics isn’t just about who is overseeing the country yet rather a significant piece of their idealogy. Uncertainty is frequently stressful, and some people are better at dealing with uncertainty than others. Experiencing a pit-like nauseous feeling in the gut, every time there’s political discussions and even the slightest exposure to election talk and media coverage, you could be experiencing election-related anxiety. We Indians too already have enough on our plates with our very own Made in India brand of divisive desi politics and polarization bringing in a lot of stress all of which are only heightens as we trudge closer to the elections every now and then.

Here lies another Indian-ish things — we have a tendency to be the first in everything. The first to discover ‘zero to the first to discover the cure for leprosy, and now the ESD. We have known about it for years now but just didn’t claimed it like the West. In 1997, Jaipur-based psychiatrist Dr Shiv Gautam led a team of three doctors who did a study in Rajasthan and published a paper titled ‘Election – A Stressful Life Event’, analysing near about 54 patients who sought counselling after developing mental health troubles following local panchayat elections in Rajasthan back then, concluding that the elections were stressful not only for the candidates and their campaigners but also the State Election Commission. The researchers followed this up with another study in 2009 and the result was very similar.

There has been an increase of stress and anxiety in economically backward sections. Economically crippled strata of India have been targeted in phases — irrespective of their political beliefs. . The constant uneasiness and uncertainty blanketing the life of a common householder develops into stress and subsequently into anxiety, leading to physiological complications.

According to the Lancet Report, India recorded one of the highest suicide rates among youth globally. A research published in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 37.7% of university students in India suffered from ‘moderate’ depression, 13.1% suffered from ‘severe’ depression, and 2.4 % were suffering from ‘extremely severe’ depression, citing the uncertainty of employment and the fluctuating job market as the prime causes.

Mental health professionals pose blame of the barrage of stress-inducing social media brought to Indians , over the advent of social media. News is on every screen and there is an urgency to consume and pass it over it immediately; no time to take in the reality of the news and then react to it because everyone wants to be the first political think tank on social media which is evident on the amount of political, communal and religious propaganda in the media. The fact remains that low levels of digital and media literacy among the general population has been marked as the biggest contributor to the widespread fake news and rapid onset mob-violence scenario, as the recent violent protests over Whatsapp forwards have demonstrated.

As a coping strategy to deal with the anxiety caused by politics, Maryland based therapist and a victim to this stress himself, Dr. Steven Stosny , advises those affected by the election and its aftermath, “to reach out, connect, affiliate and show compassion for those similarly affected. Hold other people’s perspectives alongside your own. Weigh evidence, see nuance, plan for the future and replace blame, denial, and avoidance with the appreciation of complexity.” “Stand up for what you believe. Write letters, demonstrate, lobby — remembering that you’ll be most effective (and feel better) when focused on the change you want to see rather than merely reacting to what you don’t like. For optimal psychological health, take the moral high ground and resist the urge to react to a jerk like a jerk,” Stonsy says.

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