New study finds that college kids are blaming Trump for getting PTSD

New study finds that college kids are blaming Trump for getting PTSD

If you're interested in politics, any election is bound to be a time of tension.

However, for many college students, it seems the 2016 presidential election was too much to handle, with a recent study suggesting that a quarter of them blame it for psychological trauma.

A study of 769 university students, published on Monday in the Journal of American College Health, claims that nearly one in four found Donald Trump’s election victory so upsetting, they developed "clinically significant" symptoms considered predictors of PTSD.

College students Credit: Getty

Performed by researchers from San Francisco State University, the University of California in San Francisco and Arizona State University, the study looked at a culturally and politically diverse pool of Arizona State students enrolled in psychology classes.

It discovered that the average stress score of students who filled out psychological assessments was comparable to the scores of witnesses to a mass shooting seven months after the event.

Taking place in January and February 2017, around the time President Trump took office, it did not delve into whether the election had a long-term impact on mental health.

When exploring the students' thoughts and behaviour surrounding the 58th quadrennial American presidential election, the researchers used a tool called the Impact of Event Scale to measure subjective distress in trauma survivors. In addition, the assessment also probed the students’ interpersonal relationships.

Trump on August 16, 2018 in Alexandria, Virginia. Credit: Getty

Notable symptoms of trauma included avoidance (attempting to distance oneself from negative stimuli) and intrusion (the inability to get away from unwanted thoughts).

Furthermore, race, gender and religion were looked at. Black and non-white Hispanic students reported greater impacts than white respondents, while women were apparently 45 percent more likely to experience symptoms than men.

Non-Christians were also more likely to detail negative effects and Democrats had scores two and a half times higher than Republicans.

Melissa Hagan, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and the lead author of the study stated that the reactions she saw in her classes convinced her to put the study into action.

Claiming her students were "visibly upset" the day after the former businessman clinched the presidency, Hagan said: "some were even crying." She added that they told her that they were scared and anxious about policies that had been discussed on his campaign trail, as well as about the elevation of "a candidate who had an audio recording of him describing sexual assault."

"What we were interested in seeing was: did the election for some people constitute a traumatic experience? And we found that it did for 25 per cent of young adults," she explained.

The researchers involved in the study suggested that the former reality TV star's controversial way of speaking and the shock of his surprise win could have led to the stress spike.

Hagan said: "There was a lot of discourse around race, identity and what makes a valuable American. I think that really heightened stress for a lot of people."