Mental-health therapists see uptick in patients struggling with post-election anxiety

With the constant bombardment of information coming out of the Trump administration, local mental-health experts say a hefty number of their existing clients — and as many as 80 percent of potential new clients — are seeking help for postelection distress.

Puget Sound resident Marcus Searles considers himself an enthusiastic consumer of knowledge and information, but over the past couple of months, he’s had to turn off the news.

“It was everywhere, and it got to be too much,” said the 42-year-old.

Searles, who works as a title examiner for a Seattle escrow company, said the constant stream of political information was seeping into every part of his life.

Tips for keeping anxiety at bay

Seattle-area psychologists and counselors offered these suggestions:

1. Perform small acts of kindness, such as opening doors for others, letting someone merge into your lane, treating someone to a cup of coffee or offering a word of encouragement, said Jane Tornatore.

2. Breathe in nice and deep and out for twice as long. For example, count to two on your inhale and to four on your exhale.

“When we are stressed, we stop breathing, but if we can take deeper breaths — and breathe out twice as long — it slows us down and triggers our parasympathetic nervous system,” Tornatore said.

3. Be gentle and patient with yourself, said Katie Gurwell. Remember how a pendulum swings from one extreme to another before settling in the middle, and tell yourself it’s OK to have days of hypervigilance and others of sticking your head in the sand.

4. Meditate on a member of the large cat family, said Gurwell. Lions and tigers “don’t sit around all day being stressed or worried about what they are going to do. They hunt when it’s time to take action, but then they eat and play and bathe. They are not constantly in a hypervigilant state because then their nerves would be shot.” she said. “Be like the lion, ready to act, but also soaking up the sun and hanging out with the pride.”

5. If you plan to spend time with friends or relatives who tend to say things that provoke you, consider sending a pre-emptive email asking that politics be off the table for the duration of your visit, suggests Samantha Slaughter.

6. Do not read or watch news right before bed, Gurwell said.

The Seattle Times

He worried about his mother because she is an immigrant from Barbados; he worried about his young children who expressed fears of the new president, a worry that he said robs them of their childhood. He couldn’t focus at work and slumber eluded him.

For the first time in his life, he found himself seeking relief from sleeping pills.

“It was affecting me as a person,” he said.

Searles’ story is not uncommon. As news from the President Donald Trump’s administration saturates TV and newspapers, local mental-health experts say a healthy number of their existing clients — and as many as 80 percent of potential…

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