Psychiatrist says uncertain world, personal crises spawn pandemic of anxiety

Upcoming election just one of many stressors

SAN ANTONIO – Specializing in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, Dr. Harry Croft is aware of what stress and anxiety can do to the mind and body.

He said the uncertainty over the pandemic, world events, domestic issues like the economy, even the upcoming presidential election, has created a “pandemic of anxiety.”

Croft said much of stress that people are under since the pandemic began, is because they worry about “What if that happened or what if that happened, and then we begin to respond to it as if it’s already happened.”

Over time, Croft said, this can be unhealthy and make people feel even less in control.

“The what if’s about the future make us feel worse and make us less able to cope,” he said.

He said too often, people worry about what they can’t control, like who will win the presidential election.

“If you’re worried about the results of the election, worrying about the what if’s and driving yourself nuts over it isn’t going to help very much,” Croft said.

Instead, he said, they should get involved somehow to make a difference, even if their candidate loses, like volunteering to support a cause they believe in.

Croft said it’s best to focus on “the here and now.”

“We call that ‘mindfulness,’ being aware of what’s really going on in our lives right now,” Croft said.

Taking care of yourself is a start, he said.

But he strongly advises against using drugs or alcohol to relieve anxiety.

Croft said once the effects wear off, “They’re even worse than they were before they started.”

RELATED: Coronavirus pandemic is increasing stress and mental health problems in the workplace

About the Authors

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.

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