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Presidential Campaign Can Cause Election Stress Disorder

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When you talk to just about anyone these days, they'll probably tell you this election is making them sick. A recent online poll found 52-percent of Americans are simply stressed out by the election. Democrats and Republicans alike think this presidential campaign has been a very or somewhat significant source of stress. In fact, there is a name for this stress, Election Stress Disorder.

"Election stress disorder is the term I've heard going around," psychologist Dr. Peggy Mustelier told CBS4.  She says the disorder is not only real but many of her clients have it.  "Definitely difficulty eating, sleeping, conflict, internal anxiety." Dr. Mustelier said.

The anxiety manifests itself by fight or flight.

"First of all it's really clear in social media and certainly in your workplace or if you are in an environment where you mix with different political views, the apprehension and anxiety over the issue being brought up," said Dr. Mustelier. "If you notice your mood goes from being relatively calm just to being agitated angry in second, over the mention of another candidate's name, you are kind of in the throes of that."

However, Dr. Mustelier explains it's perfectly normal.  She says if this is you, you should take a step back.

"Start to have a dialogue with yourself.  Why is this upsetting me so much? Beyond the immediate, because these things push buttons in us.  There is strength in knowing these things."

And if this is someone you know?  "I honestly would say steer clear.  And if they won't listen say, if they are a friend, you can say, 'you know we are cool but not on this subject' and step away."   If they are not a friend step away.  We are not out to change anyone right? Mustelier said.

If you are one of those people who are stressed out by the election and know someone who could use some help, the American Psychological Association has the following tips for you.

If the 24-hour news cycle of claims and counterclaims from the candidates is causing you stress, limit your media consumption. Read just enough to stay informed. Turn off the newsfeed or take a digital break. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy.

Avoid getting into discussions about the election if you think they have the potential to escalate to conflict. Be cognizant of the frequency with which you're discussing the election with friends, family members or coworkers.

Stress and anxiety about what might happen is not productive. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. Consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group. Remember that in addition to the presidential election, there are state and local elections taking place in many parts of the country, providing more opportunities for civic involvement.

Whatever happens on November 8th, life will go on. Our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government. Avoid catastrophizing, and maintain a balanced perspective.

Vote. In a democracy, a citizens' voice does matter. By voting, you will hopefully feel you are taking a proactive step and participating in what for many has been a stressful election cycle. Find balanced information to learn about all of the candidates and issues on your ballot (not just the presidential race), and make informed decisions and be sure to wear your "I voted" sticker with pride.

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