Trump Anxiety Disorder: Heightened feelings of nervousness, restlessness, helplessness, and feelings of panic or dread brought on by constant reporting in the media of Trump’s disorganized, dysfunctional, and antagonistic statements and tweets. Symptoms include lack of sleep, muscle tension, wariness, increased worrying, particularly about social issues and the threat of war, and obsessive preoccupation with the news.
In my May 18, 2020 article, “Access to Health Care Can Make You Healthy and Happy” I noted that access to social supports, such as education, child and elder care, and of course (universal) health care tended to increase an individual’s sense of well-being. Other factors that increase an individual’s level of contentment include personal freedom and good work-life balance. Out of 140 nations participating in The World Happiness Survey, the United States ranked 19th, which isn’t bad, but certainly not as good as it should be given that Donald Trump says the United States is the greatest country in the history of civilization.
With all that is happening in our country, I wonder how we would now rate. For example, feeling tired, anxious, depressed? You’re not alone. According to a U.S. Census Bureau study, nearly a third of Americans reported being fearful and despondent this year. However, while the increase is in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of mental health professionals also blame it on “Trump Anxiety Disorder”.
Although it is not an official psychiatric diagnosis, Trump Anxiety Disorder refers to the increased worry and fear many people report due to Trump’s dysfunctional tweets, comments, and speeches. And it’s not just people who are politically progressive who disagree with his policies. In many cases it’s conservatives who believe the things Trump says, even when there is little or no facts to support his statements.
For example, veterans who support Trump are disturbed by the reported remarks he made about those killed in action as being suckers and losers. And as these comments are increasingly verified, it creates what psychologists refer to as cognitive dissonance: increased frustration because the facts don’t agree with what we want to believe.
Trump also uses fear to appeal to his supporters, such as the suggestion that if African-Americans move into white suburbs, home values will depreciate, drug use and crime will increase, and their children will date and even marry your daughters! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Part of the problem is that Trump cannot shut up. He tweets 25-50 times a day, has multiple press opportunities every day, calls in to Fox Fake News almost every week, and holds multiple rallies each week. That’s what he calls working for the American people. I recently saw a video of Trump giving his deposition for the Trump University lawsuit, which he ultimately settled for $25 million in damages. In response to a number of questions, Trump’s attorney turned to him and said, “you don’t have to answer that” to which a rational defendant would remain quiet. Not Trump. He just had to say something!
A recent article in Politico points out that in response to Trump’s antics, an increasing number of Americans are seeking mental health support due to increased anxiety and depression. The author states: “He’s not crazy, but the rest of us are getting their fast.” I strongly disagree. Instead, it is important to keep in mind that the problem is Trump and not you. Trump is a narcissist and needs to constantly be the center of attention. He also appears to meet the psychiatric criteria for sociopathy, such as habitual lying, disregard for right and wrong, lack of empathy, impulsivity, constant irritability, and being disrespectful of others. In other words, he can’t stop himself because he, not you, is the one with a mental illness.
According to a 2017 American Psychological Association report, mental health and substance abuse treatment cost about $188 billion annually. When we finally have universal health care, we can expect those cost to rise significantly in response to covering all Americans and because many people currently in need of mental health treatment can’t obtain it. For example, they may not be able to afford the deductibles or it may be situational; many people in need of treatment are in jail or prison, rather than in a psychiatric hospital. A comprehensive universal health care system must also encompass mental health. For example, my proposal would pay for more days of inpatient psychiatric treatment than currently offered by most private health insurance plans and even Medicare. And because outpatient treatment is less costly and often focuses on prevention, it would be fully covered.
Ideally, Trump will be defeated in the next election, but that’s far from a certainty (and that uncertainty adds to the anxiety many people feel). That’s why it is important for us to take care of our own mental health. One way is to watch less television, especially when they are reporting on a Trump rally or press conference where he sows the seeds of fear and discontent. Depression and anxiety are also enhanced due to social isolation. Therefore, maintain social relations, in person when you can or by Facetime and Zoom. Finally, we can vote Trump out of office and replace him with a president who believes in the goodness of our country and the American people.
NOTE: This month I am beginning work on a new book which examines the interconnection between politics and religion. Consequently, I will be publishing new articles only once a month. Thank you for your patronage and please share the link to this website with others.
 I can’t bear to refer to Trump as the President.
 For one of many articles about Trump’s mental fitness, see: https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-sociopath-mental-health-harvard-psychiatry-professor-1468441