A quarter of students found 2016 so traumatic that they now report symptoms of PTSD, according to a new study.
Researchers questioned Arizona State University students about the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017, and some had stress scores similar to those of school shooters' seven-month follow-up.
Twenty-five percent of the 769 students, who had a balanced mix of gender, race, and socio-economic background, reported a clinically significant stress level.
The most serious cases were seen among women, black and non-white Hispanic students, who felt 45 percent more likely to be angered by the 2016 run between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Senior researcher Melissa Hagan, Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University, believes in the "divisive tone" of race, identity, and what makes a valuable American "a real source of stress for many people."
Researchers gave the University of Arizona students a psychological assessment at the time of President Trump's inauguration, a few months after winning the election for Hillary Clinton. The researchers found that some stress outcomes were comparable to those of the seven-month follow-up of school shooters
In January and February 2017, psychology students in the state of Arizona were asked questions based on the Impact of Event Scale, which is used to assess distress in trauma victims.
Most (56.4 percent) of the students living in a state that voted for Trump said they were dissatisfied with the outcome – 20 percent dissatisfied and 38 percent dissatisfied.
Meanwhile, 18.5 percent of students said they were completely satisfied with the result, and 25 percent were somewhat satisfied.
In terms of how the election affected their lives, 65 percent said it had no impact. Ten percent said they saw a positive impact.
But a quarter was so depressed that their symptoms were considered health-related enough to disrupt their work, social activities, and personal relationships.
White people were less affected than black and non-white Hispanic students. Women were 45 percent more likely than their male counterparts. Non-Christians were much more concerned than Christians, the study found.
The election was dramatic, controversial, peppered with investigations by the FBI, Russian interference, the "grab em by the p *** y" tape and an unexpected result.
According to opinion polls, Clinton won with a probability of 70 to 99 percent, according to Pew Research. That night, outsider Trump took the key states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as the map went red.
The choice also fell on the rising tensions and fears of young people who grew up with social media.
Most students in the study said they consumed their social media coverage, which psychologists and pediatricians warn is usually the driving factor for Millennial anxiety, as are extremist, angry pockets among like-minded groups.
Dr. Hagan, whose study is published today in the Journal of American College Health, says the social media factor can not be ignored.
She also believes that the shock factor – Donald Trump's victory despite the predictions of a Clinton sweep – surprised many Democrats.
She hopes the paper will highlight the fact that for some people the choice was "a traumatic experience" that could affect their work and lives.
Dr. Hagan conducted the study with Michael Sladek, PhD, of UCSF Psychiatry Department, and University of Arizona psychologists Linda Luecken, PhD, and Leah Doane, PhD.