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Anxiety In The Age Of Rapid Cultural Change

February 02, 2017

The pace of change the country has seen since President Donald Trump assumed office has been welcomed by his supporters while leaving others feeling uncertain and confused. That can lead to legitimate behavioral health disorders connected to stress, anxiety and depression, according to Dr. Michael Balkunas, chief of the behavioral health department at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.

“Any kind of dramatic or significant change can be a cause of trauma or uncertainty,” Dr. Balkunas said. “Whether you agree with President Trump or not, he has certainly set the country on a course of great change and that is not always an easy thing for people to experience.”

In particular, Dr. Balkunas said, Trump’s initiatives connected to immigration and health care may have a direct impact on many people in terms of their sense of being welcome in their communities, or their ability to have access to medical care.

“The president has promised to overhaul the existing Affordable Care Act, and that could well close the door to health care access for tens of millions of people,” he said. “If you’re someone who’s worried that you won’t be able to pay to take care of your child if they get sick, that can cause a lot of stress. That’s a legitimate behavioral health concern.”

Even for those who are not directly impacted by all the recent changes, the charged political atmosphere and the heated rhetoric that has surrounded the new president’s actions can lead to mild forms of depression or worse, Dr. Balkunas said.

“It’s a very tumultuous time,” he said. “You see people are very upset, they may be losing sleep, they might not be eating. Not everyone is able to cope as well as others.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing undue stress — for any reason — call The Hospital of Central Connecticut at 203.224.5804 for an evaluation, or visit the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network for a location near you.