As voting day approaches and candidates step up their campaign activities, voters are beginning to feel the strain.
A woman in her 30s who is very concerned about the elections watches the latest TV footage every night and sits through almost every political talk show on offer.
At night she would have nightmares that the presidential candidate she favors lost, and wake up feeling uneasy and anxious throughout the day.
Chiang Han-kuang (江漢光), head of the psychiatry department at Shu Tian Clinic, said that while the presidential race this year is not as heated as in the past, with the two main candidates running neck and neck, more people are exhibiting symptoms of “election syndrome.”
Chiang said there was a 10 percent increase in the number of cases, with 80 percent of those visiting his clinic being old patients.
He said the common symptoms of “election syndrome” are neurosis, hypersensitivity and overemotionality. Other symptoms include feelings of anxiety and general unease, difficulty sleeping and overenthusiasm for political issues, Chiang said.
More severe cases involved patients who demand that doctors agree with their political stance, Chiang said, adding that some even suffer delusions and believed they are members of the candidates’ family and wanted to visit their campaign headquarters to show their concern.
Some people go through emotional highs and lows from watching TV news channels’ 24-hour coverage of rally and campaign events, and those with a history of psychiatric illness may very well suffer a relapse, Chiang said.
It is almost impossible for such people not to watch TV and one can only suggest that they avoid watching news reruns, Chiang said.
Appropriate use of anti-depressants can also slow the progress of the symptoms, he said.
Chiang observed that emotions continue to run high after the elections for some people, but others learn to adjust to the new situation.
For individuals who cannot let go and become depressed, he said family members should intervene.
“You do not necessarily have to agree with his stance, but you should neither challenge nor negate it,” he said, adding that phrases such as “I told you so” could easily lead to conflict.
Family members could also organize other activities to divert their attention, he said.
Individuals who continue to exhibit negative emotions for more than two weeks are advised to consult a doctor, he said.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer