Why Watching the Kavanaugh Hearings Are Giving You Real Life Anxiety — And What You Can Do

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh raged his way through a testimony on Thursday. 

The #MeToo movement has brought a lot of uncomfortable (sometimes horrific) memories to the surface for countless women — including Padma Lakshmi, who penned an emotional piece for The New York Times in which she opened up about how she was sexually assaulted when she was a teenager and kept silent about it for a long time. In the essay, the Bravo's Top Chef host wrote, "I understand why a woman would wait years to disclose a sexual assault.”

"Now, 32 years after my rape, I am stating publicly what happened. I have nothing to gain by talking about this. But we all have a lot to lose if we put a time limit on telling the truth about sexual assault and if we hold on to the codes of silence that for generations have allowed men to hurt women with impunity," she wrote.

Watching the testimony of Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday came at a crucial time for women and assault survivors, and in fact, watching his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford recount her truth and watching his angry rebuttal was traumatizing for many. Here’s what one therapist says.

“This has been a very traumatizing time for people,” explains New York-based therapist Dr. Liz Lasky, who helps victims of assault recover, adding, “While many appreciate that sex abuse, dating violence, and sexual harassment are being discussed on large scale, it comes with an emotional cost for many.”

Dr. Lasky says survivors of trauma want to be heard, and when they feel they are not it can cause irreparable damage. “They want someone to know about what they went through, but this comes with a huge caveat. People want others to witness their story in safety. Having so much of this discussion in the media does not feel safe to many survivors,” she says.

If you’re feeling down or experiencing anxiety or PTSD from the news, Dr. Lasky says, “reach out to your support network.” “I often urge people to create a safety plan. A safety plan is a plan ready for action, if needed. For example, choose someone in your family, someone in your community, and a friend. Choose people you can reach out to in a time of crisis.”

Called "Headline Stress Disorder," the American Psychological Association found that two-thirds of Americans are stressed out over the future of the country, "and the constant consumption of news cycle" was to blame. 

"While these common health symptoms might seem minor, they can lead to negative effects on daily life and overall physical health when they continue over a long period," the report found. "APA encourages people to stay informed, but know their own limits when it comes to taking in information as one way to diminish the constant exposure to potentially distressing information and the resulting physical symptoms."

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