A New Diagnosis? Patients Present With “Post-Election Stress Disorder”

Symptoms include mourning and loss of libido, psychologist says

Mental health professionals around the country––especially those working in Democratic strongholds––have seen a steady stream of patients presenting with anxiety and depression related to the blasts of daily news on the new Trump administration, according to a report from Kaiser Health News (KHN).

Requests for therapy appointments to Talkspace, an online therapy portal based in New York City, tripled immediately after the election and have remained high through January, according to the company.

“I have people who’ve told me they’re in mourning, that they’ve lost their libido,” said Nancy Molitor, a psychologist in the Chicago suburbs. “I have people saying the anxiety is causing them to be so distracted that they’re blowing through stop signs or getting into fender benders.”

The anxiety appears to be widespread, KHN says. Fifty-seven percent of Americans reported that the current political climate is a “very significant” or “somewhat significant” source of stress, and 40% said the same about the outcome of the election, according to an online survey of 1,019 adults conducted by the American Psychological Association after the inauguration. Between August 2016 and January 2017, the overall average stress level increased significantly for the first time since the Stress in America survey began 10 years ago.

In some parts of the country, on the other hand, people seem relieved if not uplifted by the new president’s flurry of executive orders and appointments, the article notes.

Nancy Cottle, an Arizona resident who voted for Trump, told KHN that she is struggling to understand the uproar over the new president. “It’s like the sky is falling―but a lot of that is just drama,” she said. “I feel encouraged; I feel hopeful. I can’t wait to wake up and see what the day’s going to bring and what else is going to happen.”

Don’t tell that to Wally Pfingsten of San Mateo, California. Since Donald Trump was elected, Pfingston has been so anxious about the political tumult that just having the TV news on in the background at home is unbearable.

“It’s been crippling,” he said. “I feel angry––really, really angry––far more angry than I expected to be.”

Molitor tells her patients to stay engaged but limit the time they spend on Facebook or watching the news. Focus instead on other things you enjoy, she advises―calling a friend, taking a walk, or reading a book.

Source: Kaiser Health News; February 22, 2017.