If a week after the election you’re still not yourself, still consumed with anger or worry, a prominent psychiatrist says these feelings will ease, no matter which side you’re on.
Yes, both Democrats and Republicans are feeling angst over the election, David Sack, MD, chief medical officer of Elements Behavioral Health, a nationwide network of addiction and mental health treatment centers, told Fox11 in Los Angeles.
“I think the disappointment is not just in the Hillary camp,” Dr. Sack said. “When people are excited about an election and enthusiastic, there’s a certain amount of reward they experience from being in that process, being in that moment. And the truth is that when an election is over, there’s a big letdown for everyone, whether your candidate won or not.”
Uh, come again? Isn’t the only challenge for the victor the joyous process of dividing the spoils?
No, says Dr. Sack. Even the winners feel it. Once the balloons and confetti have dissipated, even some Trump backers might have felt some emptiness the next day when realizing that the problems the country faces are much bigger than any one person can solve.
“It’s very easy in the moment of the election to believe the rhetoric that there are these simple answers that the other guy just hasn’t seen,” Dr. Sack said. “And then as soon as it’s over, you come to grips with [reality].”
So, says Dr. Sack, be careful what you wish for.
Another challenge for voters right now is that the feelings people had before the vote become super-charged when they head to the polls, he said, and that makes the impact of the result that much more acute.
“When people go into a voting booth, they may not be crazy about their candidate but the moment that they vote, they like them much better because they want to be right,” Dr. Sack said. “In the process of voting, their conviction that they voted for the right candidate actually increases. So you have this country that’s already polarized where the person who got the majority of the votes didn’t get elected and a lot of people are marching because they feel strongly that the wrong person is in the White House.”
And it’s not just the grownups who are feeling the pain. People are talking online about how they will explain this election to their children. Dr. Sack had this to say about the angst among the younger set: “There were a lot of character issues in this election — questions of whether people respected other people, whether people deserved to stay in the country, we have Trump calling Hillary a liar and ‘Crooked Hillary.’ These are really inflammatory things that went beyond what we’ve seen in recent elections and I think it is hard to explain that to children who feel frightened.
“I think it’s also true that Trump is promising major changes in policies. Whether those really occur or not, if you wake up in the morning and you’re in need of healthcare and you’re worried you’re going to lose the coverage you got through Obamacare, or if you have relatives who aren’t from this country who now have to worry about being deported, it can be a very scary thing. I think we’re seeing that there are a lot of families who would be affected by these kinds of changes.”
Finally, Dr. Sack was asked what he would tell those who are truly grieving.
“Well, I think they’ll get over it. At the end of the day, the problems are big problems and it’s going to require collaboration between the Democrats and Republicans to solve it. One of the interesting studies that looked at all of the 20th-century presidents found that when they’re running for office, they offer very simple solutions. And then almost immediately after they’re elected, the explanations got longer and the solutions got more complicated.
“For people who are worried that nothing good could come of this, I think they’re going to find that Trump is probably motivated to try to solve problems.”