When Hillary Clinton attended her first public event following her defeat by Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, many were stunned by the change in her appearance, raising the question whether she might possibly be suffering from depression.
In video of the speech given by Clinton at a gala for the Children’s Defense Fund, the former presidential hopeful appeared tired and less upbeat than she had during her campaign. Her usual perfectly-styled hair and makeup were also noticeably absent. Many even suggested that she appeared older that she had prior to election day.
In her remarks to the assembled crowd, she confessed, “I will admit, coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me. There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do is just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house again.”
While only Clinton, and perhaps her physician, know for certain whether she is suffering from depression, it would not be surprising for her to be dealing feelings of loss and sadness following the collapse of her dreams to become the first female president of the U.S. When a person lets go of a long-held aspiration, it is normal to go through a period of grieving that loss.
If Clinton is indeed suffering from depression, it is most likely to be what is known in the DSM-5 as adjustment disorder. Adjustment disorder, also often known as situational depression, is a short-term form of depression that may occur in response to stressful situations, such as marital issues or loss of a job. Once the person is able to adapt, they can move on with their normal life.
People with adjustment disorder may exhibit the following symptoms:
Anger, disruptive behavior
Loss of self esteem
People going through depression can also have some of the symptoms that we saw in Hillary Clinton in her public appearance, such as talking about wanting to avoid people and not taking care of their appearance like they used to.
One thing we do know about Hillary Clinton, thanks to her medical records being made public, is that she doesn’t have any known history of depression. Given this and the fact that she kept her commitment to speak at the gala, it appears that she is already taking proactive steps to move past her disappointment.
Although adjustment disorder can be very distressing, it does tend to be temporary and will most likely pass without her needing extensive treatment. Psychotherapy is the recommended treatment, although sometimes antidepressant and/or anti-anxiety medications can be helpful to deal with the symptoms on a short-term basis. And, some people will not require any treatment at all.
While it is impossible for anyone to diagnose whether Hillary Clinton is indeed suffering from depression simply by watching a short Internet video, it is not unusual for someone in her position to feel some sadness and loss, nor should she feel ashamed for having these feelings or afraid to ask for support. Feeling bad when bad things happen is a part of being human.