Postelection stress plagues patients

Unhappy female patient and doctor
Photo credit: Getty/AlexRaths

While many patients are showing up in physician offices with typical ailments such as sore throats or knee pain, a significant number these days are turning to their doctors to discuss their feelings about the recent election.

"I hear the phrase a lot: 'I feel like I've been punched in the gut, or sucker-punched,'" Elizabeth Roth, M.D., an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Women’s Health Associates, tells WBUR Radio.

She told the Boston radio station that many of her patients are experiencing short-term stress responses such as difficulty sleeping and fatigue.

In response, Roth has increased the length of patients’ visits, to allow them to talk about their experiences. She’s also using her practice’s depression questionnaire differently. For example, she asks patients, “How were you feeling before the election?” she tells the radio station.

Approximately 1,110 miles away in Madison, Wisconsin, Donal MacCoon, Ph.D., a psychologist at Madison Psychiatric Associates, tells the Wisconsin State Journal that many female patients who suffered from sexual trauma are feeling “re-triggered” by the election of Donald J. Trump, who was accused by many women of sexual assault, as the 45th president of the U.S.

Emilie Sondel, LPC, a therapist at the same practice, tells the newspaper that she’s trying to help patients direct their frustration toward something positive. For example, she suggests that they join a peaceful protest or try to build deeper bonds with friends and family, despite their political differences, Sondel tells the news outlet.