Dubbed the “Trump 10” by the Boston Globe, the trend is surfacing in weight loss clinics across the country. Dr. Richard Weil says he has seen it in some of his patients at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Weight Loss Program in New York.
“People are very troubled and stressed and falling back into old habits and eating to calm themselves,” Dr. Weil, M.Ed., CDE and director of the weight loss program, tells PEOPLE. “Anxiety and depression has emerged or been exacerbated. It’s reminiscent of post-traumatic stress. This is no joke. We are taking it very seriously.”
Dr. Weil says he’s been talking to his patients about how to temper their overeating since the election.
“We’ve been spending lots of time on this in the context of an event you have no control over externally — the outcome — but you have control over how you respond,” he says. “Part of our approach has been to not let this beat you; that is, do what you can to take care of yourself.”
He also adds that drinking alcohol only makes matters worse.
“Alcohol is a depressant and it causes disinhibition; that is, you are less inhibited and more likely to lose control over calorie intake,” Dr. Weil says. “People eat more when they drink, plus the calories in the drink itself.”
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To get through the grieving process, he recommends that people take a small step back from election news.
“Turn off the computer at 10 p.m. and go to sleep instead of staying up to all hours and reading about it online. Stop talking about it all the time. Do not under any circumstance make this dinner conversation,” Dr. Weil suggests. While you can’t live in a bubble, he says, thinking about it less will help decrease stress and consume fewer calories.
In time, Dr. Weil says the feelings of depression will lessen.
“Over time people will get back control and feelings will calm down some. People here in our program have already started to recover a little and found ways to manage,” he says. “It may still sting for a long time to come, but if you start now, if you start practicing now on how to get back control, then it will be easier later on. Stay strong.”