The American Medical Association (AMA), the largest organization of physicians in the United States, this month formally recognizes the highly controversial “Trump Depression Disorder” (TDD), as a disease. “The purpose of the policy is to advance treatment and prevention,” wrote AMA President, Nathan Lee Anderson. “It issues a call for a shift in the way the medical community tackles this complicated issue.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of Americans are dealing with some form of depression or anxiety directly related to Donald Trump’s presidency. The CDC estimates that TDD affects approximately 18 percent of children. An estimate from the nonprofit RTI International says that 42 percent of Americans will likely suffer some form of TDD by 2020, the year Mr. Trump will be up for re-election.
Dr. Michelle Hermanson, chief medical correspondent for the National Institute of Health & Wellness, downplayed the whole TDD debate. “I think it matters little whether we call this type of depression a disease, a condition or a disorder. What matters is how we can successfully treat and prevent it.”
Dr. Hermanson says immediately following Donald Trump’s election, anxious phone calls from patients started filling her voicemail. “They were not just worried about the direction President Trump might take the nation, but also questioning what will become of their health insurance,” she said.
If President Trump makes good on his promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, he will effectively strip millions of Americans of their health insurance.
Actor-turned director James Franco says he took the election of Donald Trump “very badly,” and has been suffering his own form of TDD as of late. “I’ve spiraled into a deep depression and I’ve been questioning everything that I am, and how I’ve been doing things,” the 38-year-old star told The Daily Beast.
“What Mr. Franco and millions of Americans are going through is called a collective trauma,” says Franklin D. Wyatt, the director of the International Trauma Research Program. “Collective trauma is a shared experience of depression or anxiety in response to sudden or ongoing events,” said Wyatt. “Those who opposed Donald Trump’s election have been through a collective trauma that has left them panicked and afraid.”
But not everyone is thrilled with the AMA’s move. Stephen McCarthy, a depression research analyst at the University of California, said, “The AMA just determined that some people are depressed based on who the current president is. What’s next? Will they pronounce being clinically depressed when their favorite football team loses the big game?”
While the AMA’s decision has no legal bearing, it can impact how certain types of depression is treated. Now that TDD is classified as a disease, policy decisions could result in broader healthcare coverage for both treatment and prevention of depression linked to political/world events.
“Recognizing Trump Depression Disorder will help change the way the medical community handles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” AMA board member Dr. Randall Kellner, said in a press release Friday.
Researchers are asking the public to tweet #cureforwellness to raise awareness of the growing epidemic.