Depression and the U.S. Presidency
According to the CDC, more than 40 million Americans, age 18 and older, experience depression. Depression can occur at any age and to anyone, even to some of the most famous and powerful men in the world, including a number of U.S. Presidents.
In 2006, psychiatrists at Duke University published an article in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease after reviewing the biographies and historical data of 37 American presidents serving between 1776 to 1974. Looking for symptoms of mental illness as defined by the DSM-IV Diagnostic Statistical Manual, they found around 49% had experienced some form of mental illness with depression being the most common.
7 U.S. Presidents With Symptoms of Depression
- John Adams — Historians think our second president was both depressive and manic. His mood swings and angry outbursts were legendary. While in law school he wrote about experiencing great anxiety and distress.
- Thomas Jefferson — Jefferson suffered from many physical ailments, including back problems and headaches, which contributed to his disorder. Money issues and severe grief after the loss of his wife exacerbated his condition.
- James Madison — Small and infirm, Madison was insecure and suffered from self-esteem issues contributing to his depressive symptoms. He was prescribed physical exercise like walking and horseback riding.
- John Quincy Adams — A family history of cerebral vascular disease, tremor and alcoholism, as well as the loss of two sons to alcoholism, made Adams “dour, aloof and angry.” He was reportedly unable to express his feelings, but found relief in swimming, astronomy, religion and writing poetry.
- Franklin Pierce — Before taking office, Pierce experienced multiple losses including the deaths of his three young sons. Post-presidency his symptoms intensified with the loss of his wife and his general poor health.
- Abraham Lincoln — Well known for his melancholy, Lincoln lost his mother, brother, sister, aunt, and uncle before he was 20 years old. It’s theorized that his feelings of depression, what others might think of as a liability, helped him become one of our nation’s most successful leaders.
- Calvin Coolidge — Another President who suffered traumatic childhood loss, Coolidge grieved the deaths of both his mother and sister. The loss of his son while in office inspired angry outbursts towards staff and family. He suffered form guilt and loss of appetite.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression you don’t need to be a president to get effective treatment and support. Contact RIVIA Mind today to book an appointment!