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Study finds one in four college students with clinical 'distress' in response to Trump's election

Study finds one in four college students with clinical 'distress' in response to Trump's election
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A new study from a team of psychology researchers found significant clinical distress among college students, related to the 2016 presidential election.

The study, published Monday in the peer-reviewed Journal of American College Health, found that 25 percent of students had “clinically significant event-related distress.”

Such distress is linked to future diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the study, which interviewed students at Arizona State University around the time of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Cohen: I pray Michelle Obama's words will unite country again Michelle Obama: ‘I stopped even trying to smile’ during Trump’s inauguration Trump wants to end federal relief money for Puerto Rico: report MORE’s inauguration.

Melissa Hagan, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University who conducted the study, told The Washington Post she was motivated to conduct the study after seeing students crying and “visibly upset” in the days following Trump’s election.

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According to the study, a number of groups reported more election-related distress, including women, racial and sexual minorities and non-Christians, even when controlling for party affiliation.

“Repeated exposure to visual stimuli and words relevant to one’s identity, when perceived to be threatening or priming negative stereotypes regarding social group membership, can negatively impact psychological well-being,” the researches wrote in the study.

Hagan noted to the Post that while event-related distress can be an indicator of future PTSD, the election itself was not a trauma.

The symptoms of distress recorded in the study included experiences of intrusive thoughts and avoidance: “They don’t want to talk about it,” Hagan said.

The study builds on a growing body of research examining the public reaction to the current political climate. Therapists in the U.S. have reported seeing a rise in politically-related anxiety that they have dubbed “Trump Anxiety Disorder.”

And the American Psychological Association (APA) found in a survey that stress levels following the election were the highest they’ve been in a decade, with the stress largely linked to the election.