“His presidency is over, but the trauma isn’t,” Vox’s Anna North wrote in solemn reference to the mental health impact of former President Donald Trump’s four years in the Oval Office, suggesting that many Americans are still grappling with the effects of “Trump anxiety disorder” even now after he has left office.
What did she say?
In a lengthy column published by the liberal news outlet on Thursday, North argued that Trump’s presidency was so detrimental to the American psyche that lasting mental health effects can still be felt today and will likely continue to plague society for some time to come.
“Now, Trump has finally left office, despite his constant threats that he wouldn’t. But the impact on the American psyche of four years of racist rhetoric, incitements of violence, and out-and-out chaos remains,” she said, adding later: “Like the impact of Trump’s policies, that stress doesn’t go away overnight, especially when the conditions that led to his election — systemic racism, anti-immigrant paranoia, and the rampant spread of misinformation — are still very much a reality.
To prove her point, North cited a nationwide survey published by the American Psychological Association showing that stress levels tied to the nation’s political climate were steadily on the rise during Trump’s presidency.
The survey reportedly found that in 2016, following Trump’s surprise election-night victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, 63% of Americans felt the future of the country was a “significant source of stress,” while 56% said they were “stressed by the current political climate.” Then in 2018, those numbers went up to 69% and 62%, respectively.
Another survey published by the APA found that the 2020 presidential election, specifically, was a more significant source for stress for Americans than the 2016 election by a whopping 16 percentage points, jumping from 52% to 68%.
North argued that while Trump’s time in office may have been a source of excitement and enthusiasm for some, “For many others, his presidency was, quite simply, scary,” even going on to compare the lasting effects of his presidency to those that accompany a physically abusive relationship.
What’s the solution?
But people don’t have to live like this forever, North argued; “rest, treatment, and action can help people recover from trauma.”
Relaying advice from clinical psychologist Jennifer Panning and gender justice advocate Farrah Khan, North wrote, “For some, the first step toward rebuilding that feeling will be simply acknowledging that the past four years — and especially the last year — have been traumatic.”
She then noted that one way people can heal is through self-care practices such as “online storytelling, journaling, and crafting workshops.” Though others struggling with symptoms of depression or anxiety may need to seek outside help in the form of therapy and medical treatment.
Still others can look to “activism” as a way to heal, Khan asserted in the article, though Khan cautioned that even activists need to make time for rest.