Skip to main content

What do you do about post-election blues?

By Elizabeth Landau
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- When David Kronmiller wakes up and sits down at his computer in the morning, he usually checks the Huffington Post, the Drudge Report, Politico and the polls on RealClearPolitics. But the day after the election, he realized he didn't need to check those polls. There weren't any.

David Kronmiller will focus on writing and filmmaking now that he doesn't have election polls to check.

David Kronmiller will focus on writing and filmmaking now that he doesn't have election polls to check.

"There is some sadness to that," said Kronmiller, a North Hollywood, California, resident who frequently contributes his views to

Although he supported President-elect Barack Obama since the primaries, the end of the presidential election means he won't have a race to follow anymore.

"I expect serious withdrawal, like, tonight or tomorrow," he said Wednesday.

After two intense years of campaign ups and downs for both major U.S. political parties, the nation has finally settled on a president. Although initially, Obama's victory brings celebrations for supporters, experts say the let-down that voters of each side may feel after the campaign is akin to postpartum depression.

"There's this run-up: OK, it's nine months, and then the baby is delivered," said Rosalind Dorlen, a clinical psychologist in Summit, New Jersey. "All of the waiting is over, and the focus of the attention is no longer on the pregnant woman, but there's all kinds of feelings about the loss of the pregnancy.

"Maybe we will have some people who will have post-election depression because they have been expectantly looking forward to this blessed event that they participated in," she said.

Nancy Molitor, a clinical psychologist Wilmette, Illinois, started seeing some post-election despair even before the final results came in. Some of her patients wondered what they would do with their time in the absence of polls and campaign coverage.

"This lady is in her 80s, and she told me she's never in her life been excited about a campaign as she is about this campaign, and she knows it's filled this void in her life," she said.

Supporters of the winning candidate may feel as if they are going through withdrawal from a drug, Molitor said. They may also develop anxiety over what will change with the new president or become cynical about anything changing at all.

By contrast, someone whose favored candidate lost may go through something similar to grieving: starting with numb disbelief and then moving to anger, sadness and, eventually, recognition of the need to move on, she said.

Mourning over a lost campaign resonates with Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor who worked on Al Gore's campaign in 2000. In a column for, she recalled feeling lost and disillusioned at first, and had no idea what to do with her life.

"It hurts like hell," she wrote. "It is like death of someone close to you -- the difference is no corpse or casket to help bring closure, just more election analysis and pundits spewing out what you did wrong."

She advises staff members, volunteers and supporters of candidates who lost on Tuesday to let out their grief: "Grieve. Mourn. Let it out." Read Donna Brazile's 'A letter to the losers'

To combat the letdown of the period after the election, Molitor advises people to put routine back into their lives. Political junkies who lost their sleeping and eating routines should get back on schedule, she said. They should also take part in community activities, such as book clubs or other interest groups.

Even supporters of winning and losing candidates may feel a little off for two weeks or more, she said.

For some, the excitement will continue for a couple of weeks, until the reality sets in that the candidates they elected won't be able to do anything until January, said Jana N. Martin, a licensed psychologist in Long Beach, California.

Anyone who feels depressed, hopeless or powerless after the election should realize that they as individuals have the ultimate control over their everyday lives, she said.

"The president is not going to find you a job; the president is not the one who manages your individual budgets," she said. "If people want changes, they can do that in their day-to-day lives. They don't need a candidate to do that."

Those who feel truly overwhelmed should see a psychologist who can help them think out loud, she said.

Aric Butler, a Pennsylvania State University student who supported Sen. John McCain, said he's not upset that Obama won but does feel a sense of withdrawal.

"I love discussing and debating politics, and now that the election is over it seems like nobody wants to discuss politics anymore, which is very disappointing (in) this short (time) after the election," he said in a recent e-mail.

But for some, the end of the election season brings feelings of relief. Alex Khanye, a student at California State University in Sacramento and a McCain supporter, said Thursday that he feels better now than throughout the campaign because of the bitterness and anger that it sparked in some people. A few weeks ago, when he was at a rally, someone slashed the tires of his car, which had a McCain bumper sticker.

"We had all kind of accepted that Obama was going to win probably, for the last month for so, so it wasn't like we were really that hopeful going into the election, so we had come to grips with it, at least I had," he said. "I'm ready for everything to kind of go back to normal."

Others say the end of the election simply means they'll have more time to focus on other aspects of their life. Adam Sieff, a Columbia University student who supported Obama, said he'll now have more time to concentrate on schoolwork and maintains that his "withdrawal" will not be of postpartum proportions.

With more free time in the absence of campaign-following, Kronmiller said he's going to get focused on his own writing and filmmaking. 'Obama won -- now maybe we can move forward'

"As (Obama) said (Tuesday) night, it's time to get to work, and get things moving forward again, instead of all this fighting, all this resistance that we've had," he said.

All About DepressionPsychologyElection Campaigns

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print