Losing the White House: Depression Sets In

Losing ain't easy — especially after almost a year spent tirelessly campaigning to become the first female president in the nation's history.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., will likely feel a tremendous sense of disappointment and failure, according to former politicians who also lost their bids for the White House.

"You don't run as hard as we run and lose and feel good about it," former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis told ABCNEWS.com.

Dukakis, who was the Democratic Party nominee in the 1988 presidential election, eventually lost the election to George H. W. Bush.

Almost two decades later, Dukakis said he still thinks about what might have been.

"These days, I somewhat jokingly say that if I'd beaten the old man [Bush], we'd never have had the kid [current President Bush] and the country wouldn't be in this mess," said Dukakis. "I still feel that responsibility still."

Feelings of nostalgia, sadness and discontent are to be expected as Clinton becomes the latest fatality of the Democratic Party and, much like those who came before her, she will struggle with the question "what if?"

Getting Back on the Horse Is Best

"The disappointment is huge," Dukakis said of his 1988 loss. "I wasn't happy with myself or my performance and certainly not the results."

Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and the author of "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success," told ABCNEWS.com that feelings like Dukakis' are common among ambitious people who experience failure in their careers.

"It is tremendously disappointing to do everything you're supposed to and work as hard as [Clinton] has and not succeed," said Dweck. "It's a tremendous blow and takes time to recover."

On ABC's "Good Morning America" this morning, Clinton supporter and political commentator James Carville said that losing her bid for the presidency will take time for the senator to process.

"This is a very emotional, human endeavor," said Carville. "A lot of relationships and a lot of dreams and hopes have gone down."

"I would think it's going to take a couple of days to absorb everything," added Carville.

"This thing doesn't have a switch," said Carville. "You don't walk in a room and turn it off and turn another one on."

Dukakis told ABCNEWS.com that while he did not cry following his loss, that may partly have been due to his other responsibilities: Dukakis returned to the work force and reported to his governor's post the day after the election.

"I didn't have much time to sit around and feel sorry for myself," he said. "But there is a disappointment factor and a fatigue factor."

Having other important responsibilities -- much like Dukakis did -- helps greatly when trying to move on after a blow to your career, Dweck said.

Similarly, Dweck said that Clinton will likely benefit from realizing her potential to serve in other capacities now that the presidency is not an immediate option.

"If [Clinton] understands that she gave it all for what she believes in and focuses on the contribution she made -- as a role model for women even -- it will be less difficult for her to cope [with the loss]," she said. "The fact that she has more contributions to make will make it easier."

End of the Trail Can Bring Relief

Former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart ran -- unsuccessfully -- for president in both 1984 and 1988 but told ABCNEWS.com that he felt more relief than sadness after leaving the campaign trail.

"The predominant feeling is a great sense of relief that the 18-hour days and the 24/7 weeks month after month have come to an end," Hart told ABCNEWS.com. "It's a much harder physical and psychological investment than most people realize -- it's very, very hard work."

And while other politicians in his shoes may have mourned the absence of attention from supporters and a secret service detail, Hart welcomed his newfound freedom.

"For six or eight months, I'd never drive a car because of the secret service protection, and getting behind the wheel was kind of a shock," said Hart of his post-election life. "You don't have people standing outside your door every night or opening the car door for you or going through crowds with you.

"It's not a decompression in a bad sense but just a change in lifestyle -- and a very welcome one," he said. "I was [relieved] to get out of the limelight."

Hart added that, in retrospect, he always considered his campaign to be somewhat of a miracle. An unlikely candidate from the start, Hart's campaigns went further than expected, and so his loss was less of a surprise than Clinton's may have been to her.

Hart said he suspects that after being the Democratic front-runner for quite some time, Clinton may feel a greater sense of defeat following her loss than he did.

"I think it would be harder to start out way ahead and to not to succeed than to start way behind and almost succeed," said Hart, comparing his own campaign with Clinton's. "To start out with all advantage is very much harder than being a dark horse."

But Dukakis, who is now a public policy professor at Northeastern University in Boston, said that politicians know what they're getting themselves into -- whether the outcome is disappointing or satisfying.

"I'm sure [Clinton] is feeling great disappointment, but on the other hand we're all big boys and girls," Dukakis told ABCNEWS.com. "We know when we run that you can either win or you can lose."