Hollywood Should Watch Out for Post-Election Depression, Say the Town's Shrinks

Donald Trump Gossip Illustration - H 2015
Tim Bower/The Hollywood Reporter

Donald Trump Gossip Illustration - H 2015

Four Hollywood shrinks predict what Nov. 9 is going to look like in Hollywood and America, from "a rise in anti-anxiety meds if Trump's elected" to "a great absence of stimulI" once the "schoolyard bully fight" is over.

With uncertainty high — not to mention anxiety levels, The Hollywood Reporter went to Los Angeles' top shrinks to discuss what the mood will be like among the town's entertainment creators and power players on Wednesday. 

"A Rise in Antidepressants and Anti-Anxiety Meds if Trump's Elected" 

Dr. Jenn Mann has a private practice in Los Angeles and hosts VH1's Couples Therapy. Her patients include a diverse clientele of writers, directors, producers, actors and musicians. The majority of her clients are Hillary Clinton supporters.

If you are an anxious person already or are wired for anxiety this election is only going to make it worse. If you are a depressed person this election is only going to make you more depressed, that’s a guarantee. But I think there will a lot more anxiety if Donald Trump wins because the concerns with him are very specific. He is such an unknown and such a loose cannon, though many of his supporter’s kind of like that about him. He is so unpredictable and being the President of the United States is kind of like being a parent, in that kids respond well to predictability and structure and as a nation we too respond well to predictability and structure. Trump is not likely to provide that. What has gotten him to this place is his intensity, his passion, his ability to speak off the cuff and his unpredictability. I would assume those traits would follow him into the White House should he be elected. No question, I predict that there will be rise in people taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications if Trump is elected. 

Trump Triggers Inadequacy Issues

Dr. Larry Shaw is an L.A.-based psychotherapist with a Ph.D in psychology; patients include producers, screenwriters and other entertainment types.

Both candidates, but more so Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton, have triggered certain responses of inadequacy from my patients, and a lot of times the people that I see have had very authoritarian fathers. Trump can be seen as this really intense father-figure, while Clinton is the hard-driving mom (although these feelings are less intense with Clinton) and Bernie Sanders was kind of like Grandpa Bernie for many people.

So the whole energy of being less than the people in power is bringing back issues my patients had as children. My patients are constantly on high alert, anyway, and then this election highlights the injustices in the industry for them. Even if you are a successful producer, who is more powerful than you? Who is financing the film? Will you win the Academy Award? And what I keep hearing from my patients is that they talk about the election and then they talk about their own careers and the overall theme is, ‘It’s not fair.’ There is a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness around us.

Donald Trump’s being narcissistic and powerful triggers for a lot of my male patients, memories of coming home as a kid and only getting an A- or not being good enough. For example, one of my patients has a father who has won Emmys and Academy Awards and this patient is constantly under his father’s shadow in the industry and under his father’s criticism. Recently, he has been taking it out on his son and he is echoing some of the same things his father did. As the election is revving up, it actually triggered this authoritarian male piece within himself that he hates, but it is coming out as a reaction to this election cycle.

I have had patients where something happens with Trump and that exacerbates their feelings about the issue and they want to rage against the system, and they choose to do drugs, even if they have been clean for a few months, or at least given them up for a while. It’s hard for people to sort out their feelings. 

Going forward, after the election, I will tell people to do what can you do today to take care of themselves, small concrete things like going to a yoga class or writing, because at this point you will not be able to affect the election.

"A Great Absense of Stimuli" After the Election

Dr. Donna Rockwell is a clinical psychologist with expertise on fame and celebrity.

Going forward, as someone who did their research on fame and celebrity, I can speak to fact that the country is going to feel a great absence of stimuli after Tuesday has come and gone. Because it is like we have been watching an episodic show called the 2016 election and that show is ending. We can’t have a situation like in Dallas when Bobby comes back and it was all a dream. It’ s not a dream. And I think we are going to be left with this toll taken on us from watching this television, this stimuli, everyday. The drama will be over as far as the cliffhanger of who is going to win, and now we have to get back to our regular lives and figure out how do we get back to the actual policy conversation that we have been neglecting in the name of being swept away by this reality TV-type 2016 election. 

I think after this election, we will have something like a post-fifth grade recovery — because it has been us going out to the playground and watching the two schoolyard bullies fight with each other. We have gotten our neurons all excited over watching this play out continuously, and now we are going to have to graduate to sixth grade. We have to come back to a level of emotional maturity and intelligence and say, 'O.K., now, how do we pick up the pieces?' We became addicted to the drama and we have had so much drama this cycle, so we are going to have to take our time and fill it with more productive experiences to get over the hangover this election will leave. 

Watch Out for Post-Election Stress Syndrome

Dr. Jeff Blume is a licensed psychologist in Beverly Hills and has worked with creative talent for 25 years.

There is a lot of all-or-nothing thinking about the candidates: "Hilary Clinton is a criminal, she is a liar,” but the truth is, people are really complex. All of the negativity that is out there is bombarding us and we are sort of addicted to it. This election coverage has certainly filled a lot of people’s time and there may be a tendency for people to feel loneliness after the build-up of the election dies down. This is election cycle has been like our best friend and worst enemy. It is our best friend because it has been a distraction and an avoidance to other things that are shifting in our lives. We can get angry at a candidate or idealize the other candidate. And on the other hand, it is our enemy because it has created so much anxiety and uncertainty. 

People may have to deal with a lot of emptiness and possible depression after Tuesday. You could call it Post-Election Stress Syndrome. Half the people will be really disappointed and then half will be relieved. But how relieved will they be really? Because with whichever candidate wins, it will not be some big, sweeping ‘we will live happily ever after’ situation. We will still wake up and have the same problems we had in our personal lives and the challenges of life and the challenges of the world.