A new psychological study from San Francisco State University claims that a full quarter of millennials are suffering from bouts of post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, because of the 2016 elections.
The study is by no means comprehensive — the research pool was limited to 769 students studying psychology at Arizona State University — but of those millennials chosen for the test, 25% reported experiencing “clinically significant” levels of stress, along with other symptoms of PTSD.
Students were evaluated using an “Impact of Event” scale, which measures stress levels at various times following a major traumatic event, typically a tragedy or a personal illness or injury. The results, the Washington Examiner reports, “indicated that students’ average stress score was similar to those of witnesses of a mass shooting seven months after the incident.”
“The scale is used to gauge the extent to which individuals have been impacted by an event in such a way that it might lead to diagnosable post-traumatic stress disorder,” lead researcher, Melissa Hagan said in a statement released alongside the study.
“What we were interested in seeing was, did the election for some people constitute a traumatic experience?” Hagan added. “And we found that it did for 25 percent of young adults.”
Those students suffering symptoms all qualify for an official PTSD diagnosis, according to the study itself. And students who self-identified as a minority, as female, as a Democrat, or as a non-Christian reported the most significant stress levels.
“Black and nonwhite Hispanic students scored higher on the assessment than their white classmates, for instance. Gender, political affiliation and religion all played even larger roles. Females scored about 45 percent higher than males on the assessment, and Democrats scored more than two and a half times higher than Republicans,” the study said.
Hagan attributed the “clinically significant” stress levels to both the election’s “surprise” result and rhetoric tossed about in the final weeks of the campaign — specifically Donald Trump’s comments about what makes a person a real American.
But if it seems strange that simple rhetoric — speeches made in the closing weeks of a campaign when candidates from both parties were trying to instill fear in voters — should trigger actual stress symptoms months after an election, that’s because it is, at least from a commonplace perspective.
But it’s easy to see how students might translate politics into personal harm. Since November of 2016, emotions have been at an all-time high, and outrage meters, particularly on the Left, are set to 11. Each new development from the Trump White House warrants weeks of impassioned social media postings, in-world protesting, and panicked speculation. Each simple policy change is often accompanied by concerns that President Donald Trump is going to “de-humanize” segments of the population, strip women of rights, and institutionalize everyone he disagrees with.
In the months following the election, few — if any — dire predictions have come to pass, but that doesn’t mean true believers aren’t living in fear.
It might be time, though, to let go — and grow up.