The never-ending campaigns, social media, and 24-hour news cycles have made politics impossible to escape, even for the casual observer.
But do these policy fights and polarization are more than a headache? Research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reported, YES people are making ourselves sick over politics.
Nearly 40% of Americans were surveyed for this new study, which said politics is stressing them out and 1 in 5 are losing sleep, and 4% that is equivalent of 10 million US adults reported suicidal thoughts related to politics. 20 percent have damaged friendships because of political disagreements and 1 in 5 report fatigue.
These responses show many in the United States believe their mental and physical health has been harmed in some way by the exposure to politics.
The research is the first to look comprehensively at the physical and emotional costs of paying attention to and participating in political discourse. Earlier examinations have focused almost solely on economic costs like time lost from work to vote or the monetary costs for supporting a campaign.
The research included a comprehensive survey containing 32 questions, all those related to how people see politics as a source of problems in their lives. This can reflect the mental health cost to American citizens of the extreme political polarization experienced since the 2016 election.
The survey was conducted for 1.8 million people representing a cross-section of Americans with respect to their age, gender, income, race, employment status, church attendance, and other factors; and 800 people responded.
The result of research was that it found people had political differences, indeed, imposed some high personal costs on the American. These include disruption in the workplace, damaged friendships, anger, frustration, and feelings of guilt and regret.
Other studies have shown significant stress from American politics, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln study is the first that has broken down the results into specific categories of psychological, social, physical, and emotional issues.
25 percent of survey respondents agreed that politics had caused them to be stressed, depressed when a preferred candidate is lost, lost temper as a result of politics, exposure to media outlets promoting views of other candidates can drive them crazy.
Some answers were that politics has led them to hate some people; they spend more time thinking about politics.
More than 15 percent agreed on politics has caused them to be fatigued, lost sleep because of politics; politics has caused to think seriously about moving, secretly wished bad things on those who disagree politically. Some believed their life would have been better if they didn’t focus so much on politics and differences in political views have also created problems in the extended family.
This might be expected from a survey taken after the 2016 election; there was more political stress perceived by Americans who were with the left or more liberal side of the political spectrum than the right. The scientists are interested in finding out in future research if stress shifts to the other side when a left-leaning person is elected President.
Politics has really negatively affected a lot of people’s lives, or at least, they perceive that politics is really affecting their lives negatively in deep and meaningful ways.