Emotional Stress After the Election

Updated on March 10, 2017
Ezria Copper profile image

My game plan is to research the research, condense it, and translate it into everyday language for busy people.

Emotional Stress

Traumatic Stress

The election of Donald Trump was the most divisive election that I can remember. According to San Francisco psychologist Deborah Cooper, "Before the election, at least half of my psychotherapy clients... were exhibiting enormous anxieties around issues of bullying, sexual exploitation, racial and/or ethnic stereotyping along with threats of violence associated with Donald Trump's campaign." She went on to say, "Now that he has been elected, my entire practice is experiencing this as a traumatic event." The number of calls to San Francisco's suicide hotline increased by 30% in the first five days after Trump's election. The only comparable events in U.S. history that caused much of an increase to that particular hotline were September 11, 2001, and the Loma Prieta earthquake.

What we are finding is that stress is not just limited to people that are liberal. It is all-encompassing. We now are in a situation where you might keep views to yourself- you don't know if its safe to talk to your friends and neighbors about it. Humans are social creatures and when you start limiting what you can and cannot say it can cause a lot of damage.

— Maimuna Majunder, computational epidemiology research fellow at HealthMap, Boston

Definition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) is defined as a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Symptoms of PSTD

  • irritability
  • anger outbursts
  • aggressive behavior
  • overwhelming guilt
  • trouble sleeping
  • feelings of shame
  • depression
  • self-destructive behavior
  • trouble concentrating
  • easily startled or frightened

The Range of Stress

The amount of stress that each person experiences differs. Author Jeff Gillenkirk wrote a piece entitled "The New P.T.S.D.: Post-Trump Stress Disorder." He diagnosed himself as having the disorder in the article. He died of a heart attack two days after it was published, according to the Washington Post.

Although not all people experienced that level of stress, for some people it triggered memories of past political trauma like the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (J.F.K.) and the resignation of Richard Nixon. The level of trauma an individual experiences varies per a lot of things that are specific to each individual such as past experiences, genetic makeup, and amount of stress ongoing in the individual's life. The people who voted for Trump call depressed liberals or people who did not want to see Trump elected "snowflakes," "whiny crybabies," and a number of other things. Some people feel that the term coined by psychologists, "post-Trump stress disorder," is a slap in the face to people who are suffering from clinical PSTD, like military veterans or victims of violent crimes.

Recommendations from the American Psychological Association

  • Limit media consumption. Only read enough to stay informed. Turn off the T.V., etc. if you need to and do something nice for yourself.
  • Avoid talking about the election, especially if it is going to escalate to conflict.
  • Be pro active by volunteering for a local group or participating in something that will bring about wanted change in the community.
  • Try to maintain a balanced perspective by remembering our government has three branches which gives us some stability.
  • Always vote because because it means you are taking a step to participate which gives you some control.

The Three P's of Stressful Setbacks

According to Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium, stressful setbacks are not:

  • permanent
  • personal
  • nor pervasive

Recommendations for Handling Stress

  • take a walk
  • listen to music
  • do deep breathing exercises
  • eat well
  • get enough sleep

We have a very sound government, 200 years in business. We've had major disasters within our history. Things have a way, not by accident, to be able to resolve and keep people safe.

— Dr. Philip Levendusky, psychology department director, Belmont's McLean Hospital

Handling Emotional Stress

When dealing with stress that was traumatic one hears that the first thing to do is to admit that it was traumatic. Then, one also hears that the best thing you can do is do something to fight back against what caused the stress. Supporting the marginalized and the victimized is always a good idea no matter who is in office. Doing volunteer work would also help the individual to see some type of work for the betterment of humanity. Derrick Duplessy, a Boston based career coach who founded "Scream Club", (a group of young entrepreneurs who talk to each other about business related stress before they make a cathartic howl at the moon) said, "Take all this energy and do something productive with it."


These are the sources I consulted to write this article. I accessed all articles on March 8, 2017.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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