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UVA Professor of Psychology Says Americans Are Stressed, But Resilient

Woman in blue dress
Bethany Teachman, a professor of clinical psychology at UVA, specializes in the study of anxiety. (Photo courtesy: University of Virginia)

A University of Virginia psychologist who specializes in anxiety says America is living through a perfect storm of mental stress. Bethany Teachman, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Virginia, says, “We have research from the Census Bureau data that for every 100 America adults, 34 show signs of clinical anxiety, depression or both. And that’s really a rate about double what we were seeing in a similar survey that was done nationally five or six years ago”

But she says people are resilient and there are techniques that help: “Rather than thinking of this time as an insurmountable threat that we can’t possibly respond to, think about it as a collective challenge, think about the ways that by working together, drawing on one another’s resources and supporting one another, we will be able to manage the situation and these challenges more effectively.”

Teachman says it is important to limit media exposure, avoid catastrophic thinking and practice self-care. “So remembering to do healthy eating, get regular sleep, make sure you are exercising. Watch for unhealthy strategies like excessive use of alcohol, drugs… they can make it a whole lot worse in the long run." She says, "Doing those basic self-care things actually makes a big difference…as is keeping a regular routine, having a balance of things in your life that allow you to feel productive in ways that work for you…things that are fun, that are relaxing, that get you active and out in nature. Having that balance is really important to stay healthy and not get overly depleted during this extremely difficult time.”

Teachman says there are online resources including a free clinic at the University
of Virginia, which is part of an NIH-funded study of anxiety.

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