Election anxiety facts and patterns

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It is election season, and with that comes a certain level of anxiety.

Election anxiety is real, and it can induce everything from insomnia to panic attacks. According to research, anxiety levels rise in the lead-up to an election, peak on election day, and then fall slightly afterward.

We invited Dr. Ayman Fanous, Chair of the Psychiatry Department at UofA College of Medicine-Phoenix, to tell us more.

Dr. Fanous stated that prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications increase in the run-up to the election and then fall, as does the use of psychotherapy services.

“Anxiety in general is uncontrollable worry. The difference between fear and anxiety is that fear is usually about something specific,” Fanous said. “If there was a tiger here, I would be certain that it was going to attack me.”

According to Fanous anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and contains physical symptoms that includes fatigue, sweating, difficulty in concentration. This can have a detrimental affect on a person’s life.

“We all have worries from time to time and are able to talk ourselves out of it, but when it gets out of control then we have thoughts that come back, ” Fanous said.

Election anxiety has been tested in both 2016 and 2020 elections. “In 2016, about 50% of Americans said that anxiety towards the election gave them a lot of trouble. And in 2020, it was about 70% and has seemed to increase during that four year period,” Fanous said.

Dr. Ayman Fanous, Chair of Psychiatry Department at UofA College of Medicine-Phoenix

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