A new study released by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows that politics are becoming a source of severe stress — even to the point of suicidal thoughts — for an increasing number of Americans, particularly young liberals.
Although the results of the study were not released until September 25, 2019, the actual study itself was conducted among 800 adults from March 15th through March 20th, 2017.
Overall, 38% of adults said that politics was "stressing them out," while 20% of them reported having lost sleep over politics, and another 11.5% reporting other adverse health effects.
The effects, however, were not spread out evenly among the American population. Kevin Smith, the author of the study, noted that, "younger people and males are more likely than older people and females to suffer the negative costs of politics."
Further, the study noted that, "those on the political right report fewer negative impacts than those on the political left. Democrats, self-identified liberals, those who are socially and economically liberal, and people who disapprove of President Donald Trump are, across the board, more likely to report negative health impacts from politics."
In terms of the specific negative impacts, Smith noted in a University press release that, "Twenty percent have damaged friendships because of political disagreements. One in five report fatigue. And it's a small (proportion), but 4% of the people in our sample said they've had suicidal thoughts because of politics. That translates into 10 million adults."
Smith said that he got the idea to perform the study in 2016, when it became apparent to him that "this was a polarized nation," but there weren't any studies that examined the specific psychological effects of that polarization.
In addition to characteristics like age, sex, and political ideology, a number of other factors were noted to be likely to increase the chances that a person would suffer adverse health effects to to politics. Among those factors were: 1) having an overall dogmatic attitude, 2) frequently being involved in and discussing politics with friends and acquantances, and 3) having a harsher view of ones political opponents.
Interestingly, the study found that political knowledge "is one of the few variables showing an inconsistent relationship (direction and significance) with the political-related health measures."