A Pandemic of Anxiety/Depression: What Does It Mean for Each Individual in the US?

A Pandemic of Anxiety/Depression: What Does It Mean for Each Individual in the US?
Dr. Claudewell S. Thomas Psychiatrist RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA

Claudewell S. Thomas, MD, MPH, DLFAPA, is an established psychiatrist currently retired and living in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He received his medical degree in 1956 at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and specializes in social psychiatry, public health psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. Dr. Thomas was board... more

We have discussed the prevalence of the tandem of anxiety and depression in the U.S.A. and worldwide. From what we are able to learn from published literature, there is a pandemic of susceptibility to this dual scourge. It is in my view linked to the politics of the time as well as to uncertainty about the future. We have considered the role of the nation's and the world's leaders in either reassuring or discouraging their followers. We have discussed addiction as a world and national problem. There is another form of addiction that is gripping us as well. That is an addiction to following our favorite TV or talk host radio in order to keep up with current events both at home and worldwide. If you are one of the many who compulsively (jobs permitting) must tune to Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh, etc., and suffer anxiety or depressive feelings when things are looking bleak for your side, you need to kick the habit!

With strong leadership at the national level, representing national purpose unequivocally, we feel shielded by the familiar. When national leadership in the person of our President and congressional leaders appear venal and petty and at odds with what we understand as long-term national policy, we become uncertain as to how we are perceived on the world stage and so the News addiction is fed. Unfortunately there is a symptom price that we are often paying in irritability, angry driving, and forgetfulness in our daily living.

You may now be saying, this is all very well but it is perhaps more important than ever that I stay informed. Yes, but an hour's exposure daily to broadcast news, one half hour in the am and one half hour in the pm should suffice and a brief perusal of written material (newspapers,magazines) in that hour can ameliorate the addictive aspect of staying informed. Being careful about other addictions (soft) can help (sugar, tobacco, alcohol, gambling).

Our sense of pride in who we are and what we stand for is not usually subject to scrutiny and doubt, but it is now, since access to what is being contemplated, if for taxation and debt reduction and production, is unusually restricted and so there is more anxiety and need to know. But we have to avoid the trap of news addiction and being opened up to other addictions thereby (coffee, nicotine, alcohol, tobacco).

The role of the leader is an important one. When national leadership is at war with local leadership, our distress increases. When our President is outside of familiar alliances, some 70 to 80% of us are distressed while 20 to 30% are pleased. Knowledge of that divide produces a need to know the ultimate meaning for our country of that division, and so the need=got to know compulsion grows.

More about Dr. Claudewell Thomas:

Claudewell S. Thomas, MD, MPH, DLFAPA, is an established psychiatrist currently retired and living in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He received his medical degree in 1956 at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and specializes in social psychiatry, public health psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. Dr. Thomas was board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.