Mental health, marijuana: 2020 election leads to high stress levels, surge for some businesses

Here are some tips to cope.

Amanda del Castillo Image
Friday, November 6, 2020
Election stress leads to surge in Bay Area marijuana sales
If you're feeling overwhelmed, understand you are not alone, especially with the on-going presidential election. It has led to heightened stress and anxiety levels for many across the Bay Area. Here are some tips on how to cope.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The emotional investment in the on-going presidential election has led to heightened stress and anxiety levels for many across the Bay Area.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, understand you are not alone.

ABC7 News found widespread stress has led to a surge in business for some.

Before Election Day, The Apothecarium Dispensary locations across California saw a rush of customers. Managers said beginning Sunday, people started loading up on products expected to last.

"We saw a lot of flower sales, a lot of edible sales- mostly focused on pre-roll packs, gummies, things that will last you a few days and that you're able to share with friends," Cali Manzello told ABC7 News.

Manzello is the general manager at The Apothecarium Dispensary's Castro location.

RELATED: Is the election stressing you out? Mental health expert suggests ways to cope

She added, "We've seen it slow down over the days of the election. I think people are hunkering down, staying in and keeping their eyes on the polls."

However, she said deliveries seem to be climbing. She believes customers are choosing that option, while ballot counting continues.

"That's been a great option, during the pandemic alone," Manzello added. "But especially now. You get it straight to your door, you don't even have to leave the house, you can keep the polls on and keep watching."

Manzello explained the presidential election is definitely at the top of everyone's mind.

"These are conversations that we're preparing our staff to have each and every day," she said.

RELATED: Some Bay Area residents may be suffering from post 'election' stress disorder

If you've been feeling a little stressed since Election Day you're not alone. Psychologists say many Americans, particularly Democrats and Republicans in the Bay Area are suffering from trauma.

She said the goal is to go into the day providing good energy, "Try to uplift people as they're kind of feeling the elections maybe pulling them down or stressing them out. It feels like they're talking about it all day."

About the surge in business, Manzello described, "We have this one little printer- receipts just pouring out constantly. You know, you never get to the bottom of the stack. They just keep coming."

From marijuana to mental health.

Dr. Jonathan Horowitz with the San Francisco Stress and Anxiety Center said the election is a main stressor for his clients.

"I think it contributes to the overall ambient stress that we're all experiencing right now in 2020. I don't have to tell you, this has been an incredibly stressful year with COVID, and with all the financial uncertainty that's come along with that," Dr. Horowitz told ABC7 News. "People are experiencing uncertainty like I've never really seen before. And our clients are really grappling with it. Then you throw this election on top of it."

He said for some people, there's an interpersonal component to the election.

"I have had clients talk about having to go see a relative or hanging out with a friend who has a different political view," he explained. "It's been difficult in the past, but it's never been this heightened- the tension and the potential for interpersonal conflict, even at the individual level."

Dr. Horowitz also said, for a lot of people, the stress comes from being emotionally invested in the presidential election.

RELATED: Daily consumption of marijuana may have serious mental consequences: Study

"It's not just an election like any other year, it's hugely consequential," he said. "It's unpredictable. It's prolonged. We've been talking about this for months and months, and even years. There's a conflict component to it these days. It affects your livelihood, your standard of living, maybe your health now."

He said there are also major difference that he's noticed, compared to the 2016 presidential election.

"There's just a lot more anticipation and a perception that it's way more uncertain this time," Horowitz added. "And I think it's been weighing on people more than four years ago."

He said it's common to see an uptick during this time of year.

"Usually when it gets dark and cold, people are looking for more support. There's a sense that people are kind of hunkered down, they're sort of settling in, and they want to work on their issues," Dr. Horowitz told ABC7 News.

RELATED: Study: Smoking marijuana could get people to exercise

To take control during this time, he said exercising and getting outdoors is sort of evergreen advice.

"I feel like we all know that already, but it's really good, powerful advice," he shared. "For some people, it's meditation, yoga, or those types of activities that are really intended to relieve stress. Those things are always important."

Horowitz also suggested exploring social connections and making time for friends.

"Unfortunately, with COVID, it's made it more difficult," he admitted.

Elsewhere, Doctor On Demand said it saw it's biggest day of virtual therapy visits on Wednesday, the day after the election.

"Even compared to three months ago, our therapy visits are up 50-percent month over month. And that's even prior to when things like election news were really starting to pick up," Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi, Medical Director of Behavioral Health with Doctor On Demand said. "We're absolutely seeing an uptick in the frequency in which our patients are coming to us, in need of assistance. But we're also seeing an uptick in, say, a consultation and one off from people who just want to make sure that what they're experiencing is to be expected."

Beyond the pandemic, financial worries and upcoming holidays, the presidential election remains at the top of the list of things people cannot control.

"It's a lot that we cannot control and that's a change really, from years past," Dr. Benders-Hadi told ABC7 News. "Even when it comes down to things like reliable election results, for example."

She said she encourages her patients to focus on things they can control.

"What types of things you're grateful for, to work on acceptance of things that you're not in control of, so that you have just more power in your own life," Benders-Hadi suggested. "That can really help as far as empowerment and doing more things that are self-care and engaging in that way for you individually."

Dr. Benders-Hadi pointed to the Doctor On Demand approach. She added, "There's so much uncertainty right now. People are really looking for answers to their questions, and reliable support in a way that's not really available in any other way."

She acknowledged there are a variety of other factors that are contributing to the heightened level of stress, beyond the election.

"But anecdotally, I can certainly say the patients I'm seeing- this is a huge topic that's at the forefront, from the range of patients who are following the news cycles and tracking things like election results very closely, to those who are avoiding it altogether," Dr. Benders-Hadi told ABC7 News. "That's a very active process as well. So nonetheless, the election results are really primary for the patients that we're continuing to see."

While attempting to navigate the stress and anxiety, she said, "You want to avoid allowing distraction to progress into avoidance, where you're not dealing with any emotions or unresolved conflicts that you're dealing with."

Instead, Benders-Hadi said distraction by spending time with family and friends, by engaging in other activities, or hobbies, or self-care can be really useful in this time.

For more information on Doctor On Demand, click here.

For information on the San Francisco Stress and Anxiety Center, click here.

For additional information on The Apothecarium Dispensary, click here.

Get the latest stories and videos about the 2020 election here.