How’s this for an attention grabbing headline: “One-Third of Americans Take Anti-Anxiety Medications Due to Family Stress During the Holidays.” This figure was one of the key takeaways from a recent survey by iPrescribe, a mobile e-prescribing and telemedicine app.
Stress is so prevalent in our culture this time of year that we’ve even given it a special name: Seasonal Anxiety Disorder. Ironically, modern humans often also refer to Christmas as their favorite time of year.
The American Psychiatric Association acknowledges the duality: while most people look forward to the holidays with excitement, they also dread it. These emotions reach their peak between November and January, for a mix of reasons. Of course, there is the pressure of the holidays — between decorating, shopping, entertaining and more, it can feel overwhelming. But according to experts, anxiety around spending time with family is the cause of most holiday stress.
In its survey, iPrescribe pin-pointed the topics which seem to cause the most anxiety during family discussions.
Here’s a breakdown of Cringe-Worthy Table Talk.
Hint: surprise, surprise, the biggie is politics!
The survey asked people to pick the topics they most want to avoid discussing with family during the holidays. Which topics head the “Please Don’t Go There” list?
Family drama (36%)
Love life or dating status (32%)
The survey also asked respondents to guess which topics they would most likely encounter at their next gathering. You can see a lot of overlap between both lists.
Family drama (42%)
Holiday shopping (42%)
Pop culture and entertainment (28%)
Love life or dating status (24%)
As you can see, politics, family drama, healthcare and love life pop up on both lists. Making for a side dish of stress. If there is anything to digest here, it may be to avoid these subject.
Now back to where we started — the spike in anti-anxiety meds consumed over the course of the holiday season.
The iPrescribe survey shows that 34% or respondents admit they’ve taken anti-anxiety medications to manage family stress during the holidays. This actually isn’t a bad thing; if people need extra help, they should steps to alleviate.
“It’s important that people acknowledge their feelings and seek help when they need it,” says Colin Banas, M.D., M.H.A, chief medical officer for DrFirst.
He goes on to say, “if you find yourself feeling anxious persistently, talk to your doctor or mental health professional. Even if you are out of town or it’s over the holidays, today’s healthcare technology gives doctors the freedom and flexibility to provide care by phone, telehealth, and mobile e-prescribing.”
Another way to turn the tide may be to turn the conversation to something more agreeable.
While we’ve established that conversations about healthcare are one of those taboo topics that people most want to avoid, the topic of “good health” is a different story. Americans overwhelmingly report, 71% in fact, that they look forward to celebrating or appreciating their family’s good health during holiday gatherings. So instead of complaining about your latest ailment, maybe find something health-related to be thankful for, and share that news, instead.
Here’s to hoping maybe we can set aside differences and enjoy the gift of good health!
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