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

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Saturday, April 29, 2017
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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.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- 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.

There is no arguing the presidential race was intense.

The day after the election, many people struggled to tell us how they felt. "It makes me sad," cried one woman.

Now, 100 days after President Donald Trump took office, people are still upset. "You see that people are stressed out," one woman said.

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"I mean, it's every day, it's nonstop," a man near San Francisco's Ferry Building said.

"It hasn't gone away it's always going to be hanging over my head for the next four years," another woman said.

"A lot of people are talking about post-election stress disorder as an emerging problem," Santa Clara University Psychology Professor Tom Plante said.

Plante said many psychologists are seeing clients with symptoms similar to soldiers experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. But in this case, it's politics that's got them down. "People feel traumatized, they feel that it interferes with sleep, that they have anxiety and depressive-like symptoms," Plante said.

Post-election stress disorder is not yet recognized as a clinical disorder, but mental health officials agree it is definitely a problem. "We definitely saw a big uptick after November 8," BetterHelp founder Alon Matas said.

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BetterHelp is an online counseling website with nearly two million clients. BetterHelp's data shows that before the election, Republicans were most stressed and after the election it was Democrats. "Before the election, 56-percent of the people who signed up come from red states, after the election, the picture flipped and 56 percent of the people are coming from the blue states," Matas said.

Much of the anxiety is from people trying to figure out how to cope with family, and friends who have opposing views. "There was a lot of reaction around how do we deal with this? How do we deal with these issues of conflict that are arising?" Sonya Bruner Ph.D. with BetterHelp said.

Women, in particular, reacted to the now infamous tape of President Donald Trump talking about "grabbing" women and then being rewarded by winning the election. "I think that was one of the biggest probably tangible traumatic reactions, that are people who legitimately had a personal experience that was distressing and then to see this culture still perpetuated," Bruner said.

With the presidency grabbing the headlines almost every day, many people are still trying to find ways to cope. "This post-election stress disorder is a real thing. I mean, there's a lot of people out there that are really having a hard time with this and don't really don't know quite what to do with it," Plante said.

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, how do you cope with the next four years? The experts said you can start by taking a deep breath, focus on the future, and get involved in making the change you want to see.

Click here to read more stories about President Donald Trump.

Written and Produced by Ken Miguel