Since the election of President Trump, mental health professionals across the country are seeing a steady stream of patients with politics-induced anxiety — now unofficially called Post-Election Stress Disorder.
In the past, therapists report, it was uncommon for patients to discuss politics during their sessions, but they are currently seeing an increased number of patients with anxiety and depression related to daily political news — especially in Democrat-leaning localities.
“It’s been crippling,” said Wally Pfingsten, a 35-year-old Californian who identifies as a political moderate. “I feel angry, really, really angry, far more angry than I expected to be.” Pfingsten asserts that he is anxious about the political pandemonium that has occurred since Trump’s election.
But the Democrats are not alone. A quarter of Republicans have reported significant stress attributable to the 2016 election outcome.
In the era of “fake news,” “alternative facts,” “repeal and replace,” contested confirmations, travel suspensions, protests, and a barrage of tweets, political discussions are becoming more common in therapy sessions.
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“In my 28 years in practice, I’ve never seen anything like this level of stress,” said Nancy Molitor, a psychologist in the suburbs of Chicago, who says that a large percentage of her patients want to talk about politics. “What we’re seeing now, after the inauguration, is a huge uptick in anxiety.” She also noted, “I have people who’ve told me they’re in mourning, that they’ve lost their libido. I have people saying the anxiety is causing them to be so distracted that they’re blowing stop signs or getting into fender benders.”
According to an online survey conducted by the American Psychological Association following Trump’s inauguration, 57 percent of Americans said that today’s political climate is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, and 40 percent said the same about the election’s outcome.
“I’m seeing a lot of anxiety and anger on both sides,” says Elaine DuCharme, a psychologist in Glastonbury, Connecticut. “People who are Republicans are afraid to tell anyone. They’re afraid that everybody thinks that every Republican thinks exactly as Trump does, and supports every single thing he does.”
DuCharme noted that some of her patients are very worried about maintaining civil relationships with friends and family members who have differing political perspectives. “People are walking on eggshells.”
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