What Is "Headline Stress Disorder"? Researchers Think There Is A Link Between Current Events In 2017 & Alcohol Sales

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Stressing out about the current news cycle is about the most American thing you can partake in nowadays. Second only, perhaps, to drinking away said news cycle stress. If you feel like the news is making you drink more, you’re far from alone. In fact, recent studies show that we’re all trying to drink the Trump away, and it’s likely causing more problems than it’s curing.

This increase in imbibing is linked to a rise in “headline stress disorder,” according to a report by Munchies. As its name suggests, “headline stress disorder” is a byproduct of our constant bombardment with news. For most people, avoiding the news isn’t as easy as turning off the TV. It’s on our phones, in our social feeds, and popping up in push notifications on our lock screens, often accompanied by a headline meant to make us feel angry, stressed, or scared. “The headlines would cause anxiety for anybody,” Steven Stosny, Ph.D., a Washington, DC area couples therapist, told Munchies.

We all cope with stress in different ways, and some are admittedly less healthy than others. “Alcoholic beverages are a way to calm down the anxiety,” Stosny told Munchies. “Of course, too much of it turns out to be a depressant. [But] that first drink calms you down. Alcohol [consumption] increase goes with any popular tension.”

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This trend began during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Drizly, an alcohol delivery service, saw an orders go up by 86 percent on election night. The same was true for moments throughout the election cycle. On October 19, 2016, alcohol sales were up 29 percent from a typical Thursday in October. That particular Thursday happened to be the final presidential debate.

Those habits didn’t end on election night, which is likely unsurprising to the more than 65 million people who voted against him. In 2017, bars and taverns are expected to make $19.8 billion dollars. This is a 2.5 percent increase from last year, according to the National Restaurant Association.

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In a study published in AMA Psychiatry this August, researchers saw an 11 percent increase in alcohol use among adults over a ten year period. Most troubling was the increase in reported “heavy drinking.” There was a 30 percent increase in high-risk drinking and a 50 percent increase in people who were identified as having Alcohol Use Disorder.

According to that study, drinking was particularly on the women and minorities. This, again, is likely unsurprising to anyone who is either a woman or a minority.

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One study from CareDash, conducted in late March of this year, showed that Americans were still feeling post-election anxiety well into 2017. Fifty-nine percent of people reported still feeling “somewhat anxious” because of the election results. That number increased to 71 percent among people aged 18 to 44.

CareDash’s survey also saw a trend in people’s drinking habits. A significant number of people reported feeling some of the common symptoms of anxiety due to Trump’s election. Of those people, many say they have been coping through more engagement in “unhealthy behavior.” A little more than four in ten people aged 18 to 44 say they’ve partaken in more unhealthy behavior, like drinking, since Trump was elected.

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While you can’t immediately do much about the state of the White House (aside from call your reps), you can familiarize yourself with some of the signs you need to take a break from the news. Feeling extra anxious? More depressed than usual? Maybe take a Twitter break. Instead of self-prescribing another glass of wine the next time the news has you down, try finding a healthier form of self-care. Or, at the very least, limiting yourself to just a glass.

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