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Election Stress Disorder Spreading Across US As Therapist Warns Anxiety Worse Than 2016

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A new round of election stress disorder is spreading across the U.S., according to experts. They say the tension is even worse this time because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stress levels have been sky-high for months now. We've been dealing with the coronavirus since March and tensions have escalated the last few weeks before the election.

Marsha Palanci says she's been feeling election anxiety.

"I was keeping pretty zen about the whole situation, until I watched the debates, and then that went out the window and I have been incredibly stressed," Palanci said.

"I'm getting a lot of emergency calls of resentment or anger," therapist Dr. Steven Stosny said.

Stosny says stress over the election is causing many Americans to fight with their spouses, friends and co-workers. During the 2016 election, he coined a term for it: election stress disorder. And he says, this year, the anxiety is even worse.

"Anxiety makes you feel powerless, and resentment and anger makes you feel temporarily more empowered," Stosny said.

Stosny says we often turn that resentment and anger on the people closest to us.

"The election is only a month away, so it's only going to get more and more and more intense," one person said.

Stosny says you can reduce anxiety with exercise, writing your feelings down, or do what Palanci does -- avoid social media and resist the urge to argue with others.

"I'm very careful not to bring up politics, otherwise it would be the end of the friendship," Palanci said. "It would be too volatile."

If you do find yourself in an argument, experts say, try and keep it respectful. It's healthier for you and your relationships.

Psychologists say it's important to find ways to cope, because sustained stress can cause a variety of physical problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

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