Presidential Mental Health: A Look into the Minds of the Leaders of our Nation

Posted on February 15, 2016

Being diagnosed with a mental illness can raise all sorts of different questions. Will I have any limitations? When will I be able to go back to school or get a job? Will my diagnosis prevent me from pursuing certain types of careers? While each individual will have to answer these questions for themselves (with support from their treatment team), the likelihood is that, whatever field one chooses to pursue, there is already someone there successfully managing life and their mental illness. This idea even holds true one of the highest offices in the country: the office of the president! Let's take a look at presidential mental health. 

mental health

Abe Lincoln was one of our Presidents who has reportedly struggled with depression

According to a study done by psychiatrists at Duke University Medical Center published in 2006 in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, at least a quarter of the first 37 American presidents suffered from a variety of disorders including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Apparently, at one point, Abraham Lincoln suffered such a great depression that those close to him were worried he might commit suicide. This just goes to show that you can recover from early difficulties due to mental health issues. Susan Jara, in her 2015 article “Even U.S. Presidents Suffer Mental Illness”, remarks that:

“These findings should help give those with a mental disorder, including addiction, more reason to believe that their illness needn’t hold them back. ‘What is hopeful about this is that it is evidence that people can suffer from depression or other mental problems and still function at a presidential level, if not at their best,’ Jonathan Davidson, M.D., one of the psychiatrists involved in the 2006 study and now emeritus professor in the department of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, told The New York Times.”1

While you may have loftier life goals, it should be a comfort knowing you can always fall back on being the leader of the free world.