Adults Only: Had enough of this election season? You’re not alone

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Senior Center Director Laurie Fanelli has noted that there is a an "election stress disorder" that is plaguing some senior citizens.
REPORTER FILE PHOTO Shelter Island Senior Center Director Laurie Fanelli has noted that there is a an “election stress disorder” that is plaguing some senior citizens.

By now we are all used to the animosity that’s been part of the primary debates and the presidential candidate debates. Everyone appears to be as nasty as possible.

And this negativity can cause great stress among voters, particularly seniors.

Many are calling it “election stress disorder.”

According to

“Although it’s not an official psychiatric diagnosis, it’s being addressed by the psych community.”

“All the negativity and contentiousness will certainly trigger anxiety and anger, especially to the losers,” she added.

The election is just around the corner and the two candidates are as vitriolic as ever. This has many voters upset. We see manifestations of this even on this little island where individuals are stealing and vandalizing candidate signs.

Last week’s Reporter had a story about Islanders rallying against the theft and vandalism of lawn signs.

Members of both parties have had signs vandalized or stolen.

According to the story, Democratic Party chair Heather Reylek said, “It’s both sides … The country over the last few years has become more polarized and Trump has made it worse.”

A story above the fold on the front page of The New York Times last Friday had the headline “Trump Backers See Revolution If Clinton Wins.”

Talk about causing stress. There appears to be an absolutism in the antagonism that the presidential candidates have for each other. It’s very difficult to see either one conceding and agreeing to work with the other at the end of the election.

I learned from Laurie that recently in Psychology Today, Steven Stosny, Ph.D., identified the phenomenon which he dubbed “Election Stress Disorder.”

“The body can’t distinguish kinds of stress very well, especially when blame, denial and avoidance are used as coping mechanisms,” he explained. “If you get peeved at something a candidate says, you’ll tend to look for oversimplified solutions at work. Drink more, drive more aggressively and suffer the psychological and mental effects of general stress.”

But as seniors, we can put this election in perspective, comparing it to others that caused stress. I first understood the power of the Electoral College when Kennedy beat Nixon.

I remember the great fear of Barry Goldwater in 1964 when everyone thought he’d lead us into a nuclear war. Lyndon B. Johnson won big and we had Americans dying in Vietnam shortly thereafter.

And who can forget George W. Bush and Al Gore and the Florida hanging chads?