Let’s start with the numbers. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, roughly one in 12 American adults reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder at this time last year; now it’s more than one in three. Last week, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a tracking poll showing that for the first time, a majority of American adults — 53 percent — believes that the pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health…

America’s prodigious infection rates are also a testament to our own national failure — and therefore a source of existential ghastliness, of sheer perversity: Why on earth were so many of us sacrificing so much in these past four and a half months — our livelihoods, our social connections, our safety, our children’s schooling, our attendance at birthdays and anniversaries and funerals — if it all came to naught? At this point, weren’t we expecting some form of relief, a resumption of something like life?

“People often think of trauma as a discrete event — a fire, getting mugged,” said Daphne de Marneffe, author of an excellent book about marriage called “The Rough Patch” and one of the most astute psychologists I know. “But what it’s really about is helplessness, about being on the receiving end of forces you can’t control. Which is what we have now. It’s like we’re in an endless car ride with a drunk at the wheel. No one knows when the pain will stop.”