Beverly has begun using the term political acute stress injury (PASI) to describe the set of symptoms many people are reporting in relation to current political events since November 8, 2016. While it is not currently a recognized diagnosis (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), it may be a helpful concept for people who are trying to understand and manage their experiences. In many ways, it is similar to acute stress disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Acute stress relates to feeling extreme stress or overwhelm about a current experience. It may cause a fight/flight/freeze reaction, which may show up in different ways. Acute stress injury is different from post-traumatic stress injury because it is about what is happening now in your life, as opposed to triggering memories and feelings of earlier trauma. See PTSD/Complex PTSD or Patriarchal Traumatic Stress Injury (PaTSI) if you are experiencing flashbacks or intrusive memories as a result of an acute stressor.
People who experience an acute stress injury tend to feel overwhelmed, not themselves, highly anxious, fatigued, powerless, and/or hopeless. They may find it difficult to do everyday tasks, and instead may spend excessive amounts of time trying to get more information about the stressor. Some people may be unusually irritable or forgetful. They may also become so worried about the future that they lose sight of the good things in their lives now. They may have difficulty sleeping and have physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and tightness in the chest. In the case of political acute stress injury, these feelings happen in response to one or more current political events, and the person may spend too much time on social media or watching the news.
While it may not be realistic or appropriate to just relax and ignore the stressor, brief psychotherapy can be extremely helpful in overcoming these intrusive feelings and getting back to feeling like you are grounded and have the ability to cope well. If you think you might be experiencing political acute stress injury, please contact Beverly for a free half-hour consultation.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed.). Washington: DC: Author.