Be Wary of False Messengers

A friend who works in the mental health field told me that conversations with her colleagues — counselors, psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists — revealed a disturbing trend: The professionals see a noticeable increase in anxiety-based problems that are driving more and more folks to therapy and to psychiatric medication. International pressures, health insurance worries, suspicious political shenanigans, concern about the future of the country — these and other issues seem to be weighing heavily on a growing number of people.

Worse yet, as the anxiety affects more and more people, professionals find their clients are beginning to disengage, give up, and withdraw. This sequence of fear, helplessness, and withdrawal can lead to serious psychological consequences, notably depression.

Should this psychological descent into despair and depression continue to expand at a national level, we will have a serious problem. Not only will our fellow citizens be troubled with personal crises, but they will also become more vulnerable to messages from powerful others who tell them, “I have the answer.” They will succumb to propaganda, and our government of checks and balances bound by Constitutional laws could be damaged.

We’re not really talking partisan politics here, folks. That has been a reality since the days of Adams and Jefferson and the other Founders. No, we’re talking about facing up to — coping with — pressures being put in place to sow psychological distress in the populace to make people more malleable.

Some people point out that both broadcast media and social media compound the pressure by saturating society with troublesome news. Media influences can indeed add to stress levels. At least we know from research, however, that this effect can be counteracted significantly by talking with friends and others about your anxieties concerning current events. This makes sense because it is well-known that when faced with stress and challenges, talking it over with a good friend or trusted members of a support group is quite helpful.

The problem is, if media coverage makes talking with friends and relatives less likely, then the negative effects of the saturation coverage are greatly compounded. And this is precisely what you must be aware of and guard against. Check our blogs of May 17 and 24, 2019 that dealt with psychological vaccinations. Those points certainly apply to this case.

Here is the coping lesson we can take from this discussion: When you are troubled, talking about it with trusted friends and family, a support group, or even a counselor, can be very beneficial. Yes, turning off the media source can also be helpful, but unless you crawl into a hole, the event will eventually force itself on you. So, reach out to others and discuss your concerns. You will probably find you are not alone.

Most importantly, remember something very important about coping with stress: There is absolutely no reason, psychologically speaking, that you cannot find appropriate coping actions to deal with any situation that you can control, and use those actions to produce positive change. That may be your new challenge at a national level. Like all other challenges, do not be afraid to confront it.

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