The United States of Despair –
January 2, 2020 – Everyone has his or her own definition of a political crisis. Mine is when our collective mental health starts having a profound effect on our politics — and vice versa. It cannot be a simple coincidence that the two have declined in tandem. The American Psychiatric Association reported that from 2016 to 2017, the number of adults who described themselves as more anxious than the previous year rose 36 percent. In 2017, more than 17 million American adults had a new diagnosis of a major depressive disorder, as well as three million adolescents ages 12 to 17. Beyond bitter social antagonisms, the country is racked by mass shootings, the mind-bending perils of the internet, revelations of widespread sexual predation, the worsening effects of climate change, virulent competition, the specter of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, grinding student debt and crises in housing, health care and higher education.