Grappling with Millions of Reddit Discourse: The 2020 Election Influence on Mental Health and Substance Use

Cannabis for election anxiety
Cannabis for election anxiety

The states have finished counting votes, but the presidential race and its influence still linger in the community. People had to deal with the post-election disturbances—mainly legal fights and further political divisions. There has been social unrest and anxiety among individuals as the future uncovers stressors. 

We have crawled over 10 million comments and 2 million most-visited threads on Reddit about anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses to determine whether the election can cause a dilemma for Americans, followed by the substances Reddit users intake to deal with their mental health issues. 

This covers January 2017, when Donald Trump first inaugurated his presidency to November 2020 – when the voting results came out as he attempted a re-election campaign. 

With that in mind, we found out:

The 2020 Election has Raised the Mental Illness Concern by nearly 115%

number of comments and threads evolving election problem on subreddits for mental illnesses

Compared to previous years, there is a vast upward number of discourse and engagement concerning the Reddit users’ mental health issues during the 2020 election proper.

114% raised in comments

54% raised in threads

For problems evolving the election day 

Comments and threads about the election in the past five months were stable in small degrees. But there was a 26.5% (comments) inflation in October, and a 20.5% upsurge equaled to the previous range of threads in the previous month.


The 2020 presidential campaign has caused severe anxiety and depression among Americans based on the statistical data. In the election month, the overwhelming political influence induced the Reddit users to share their mental health concerns. According to the American Psychological Association report, the prevailing political atmosphere is reported to be a stressor by more than two-thirds of Americans (68%), matched with 62% who responded to the corresponding poll in 2019. This includes the management of president-elect Joe Biden of the United States, the economical modifications, and international ties.


Considering the stress caused by the election, the coping mechanisms of each individual may vary. People would have to dwell on different things when uncertainty strikes. Let’s find out how Reddit users cope with anxiety/depression and other mental illness:

Marijuana Surpassed other Substances

Graphic of number of comments evolving marijuana use on subreddits about mental illnessed
Graphic of number of threads evolving marijuana use on subreddits about mental illnesses

Multiple reports about mental and health care issues surged in media outlets. For the past 4 years, marijuana has been the top substance used for mental illness. Even the lowest point surpass other substances

Top 3 substance use: 

1. Marijuana

2. Hallucinogens

3. Cocaine

Despite the controversy around the election, cannabis and psychedelic have swayed their essence following the voting count. According to the October 2020 report of The Week in Weed, a news website covering Marijuana-related issues, cannabis consumption is getting more mainstream. 


More states legalize the medical and recreational use of cannabis, which means more people have been using this as an option to release their anxiety concerning post-election results. Reports have proven that using Marijuana develops a sense of calmness while improving an individual’s relaxation. 

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