In recent years, as mental health care has gained prominence and the issues have lost some of the stigma that has surrounded them for decades and centuries, more politicians from USA have decided to speak openly about their problems in this field. After the assault on the Capitol, for example, several admitted to dealing with posttraumatic stress. And in 2020 Corey Johnsoncandidate for mayor of New York, announced that he was leaving the race to focus on his fight against the depression and he acknowledged “relieved” by the decision.

The issue, however, remains generally taboo for anyone with political aspirations in the US. Illnesses or mental problems are kept like a skeleton in the closet of politicians, including those who reach the White House. And in outstanding cases like those of Richard Nixon Y John F. Kennedythose secrets have come to light only after many years.

Investigations and access to documents have opened the doors to the extensive medicine cabinet that Nixon used, first as vice president and then when he occupied the Oval Office. He was taking, for example, Dexamyl, an amphetamine-barbiturate mix that promised to treat “mental and emotional stress.” He also had half a Doriden sleeping pill and, three times a day, meprobamate, with which the anxiety. In 1973 he began taking Valium, something he kept secret, like the rest of the medication, getting the prescription from the osteopath he shared with Henry Kissinger.

It is also now known that Kennedy, in addition to the abundant medication to treat his physical problems, used multiple drugs that treat disorders such as anxiety and depression. He took a daily dose of meprobamate and, less frequently, Dexamyl, as well as the psychostimulant Ritalin and the anxiolytic Librium. The antipsychotic Stelazine also entered the cocktail, with which the schizophrenia but that it was also prescribed for severe anxiety.

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“The pressures (of the presidency) exceed anything that human beings are designed to handle & rdquor ;, David Axelrod, adviser to Barack Obama, told the ‘Politico’ journalist Alex Thompson, who in 2015 and 2017 published pieces analyzing in depth the taboo. This was especially established after the case of Thomas Eagleton, the senator whom George McGovern chose to accompany him as his vice-presidential nominee in 1972. When it became known that he had been hospitalized for depression and treated with electric shocks, Eagleton had to withdraw from the race.

Since then, no candidate for president or vice president, Republican or Democrat, has acknowledged having undergone or received treatment for any mental health problem. Doing so, Burton Lee, who was the presidential physician to George Bush Sr., also told Thompson, would be “the kiss of death.” IDOYA NOAIN


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