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Sanders gives up his run, buzz of the limelight: How unsuccessful candidates cope

Bernie Sanders
Mario Anzuoni | Reuters
Bernie Sanders

Tuesday may have been the last time Bernie Sanders owned the limelight.

Surrounded by thousands of screaming fans, not unlike the rock-star reception he had faced many times over the past 14 months of his run, Sanders thunderously endorsed Hillary Clinton. He said he would do everything he could to help his former rival for the Democratic nomination win the presidency.

Sanders may continue to be a staple on the campaign trail into the fall. But as he tries to rally his younger supporters to Clinton's side, his departure from contention means he will likely experience some kind of emotional letdown.

Instead of being the focus of attention in large arenas, Sanders, 74, who was a relative unknown to most Americans before he announced his candidacy, will return to the town halls and school auditoriums that are the fixtures of being a U.S. senator from Vermont.

"There's naturally a withdrawal of some sort for everybody," said former Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who lost his own bid for the Senate after 22 years in the House. "That ability to influence what you think is important is greatly diminished and so you do have to come to grips with that."

Kingston added while there were negatives to leaving office and the campaign trail, it is not the end of the world for people with a sense of identity outside of the office.

"Your jokes seem to be funnier and your wisdom seems to be deeper," Kingston said of his time in office. "You're going to miss it, but I think that balanced people understand there's a time in life for things."

Psychologists agreed that Sanders will likely face emotional challenges in leaving the intensity and excitement of the trail, but they noted that circumstances are important and that it is impossible to know exactly how an individual may feel about the transition. But they said that in leaving the arenas and throngs of young supporters as he returns to campaigning in sleepy Vermont diners and his day job as a senator, something would surely be missed.

"It has to be heartbreaking to reach this point in his campaign, and I'm sure not just he himself feels this way," said John Grohol, a psychologist and founder of Psych Central. "His biggest loss is probably the loss of the idea that he would become president and being able to actually implement all of the policies that he has spoken so forcefully for."

The Sanders campaign did not respond to a CNBC request for comment.

Though Sanders' endorsement of Clinton marks the end of his presidential campaign, he has indicated a willingness to stay involved in national politics.

Sanders has proven himself a potent fundraiser for down-ballot candidates, and in an email to supporters after endorsing Clinton, he wrote that in coming weeks he "will be announcing the creation of successor organizations to carry on the struggle" for the issues his campaign stood for.

He will also be returning to the Senate — where he has served for 10 years and has two years left in his second term — with far more influence given his success on the trail.

For Michael Friedman, a clinical psychologist who has written about rock stars, Sanders may face a difficult transition leaving the campaign trail, but his strong ideology may mean a there's a silver lining when he returns to Congress in that he will have influence without being the center of attention.

"I'm sure there's always a letdown of sorts," Friedman said, but added "whether he's talking to 20 people or 20,000 people, in a lot of cases the passion is still going to be there."

Other psychologists also described the trade-off that Sanders will face as he leaves the trail, in terms of the positives — returning back home and to a regular meal schedule — and the negatives of lost influence and excitement.

"On the one hand, there would be the loss of status one enjoyed as a candidate, and perhaps some loss of interest and respect of followers," wrote John Mayer, a psychologist and professor who supervises the Personality Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. "But on the other hand, there would be the pleasures of leaving behind some of the intense media spotlight ... as well as the pleasures of returning home. I think these would tend to balance out over time."

So while losing a national race presents a difficult fact to process, it is not all negative news for Sanders as he returns to doing his own laundry in the quiet of his modest colonial home in Burlington, Vermont. When asked by CBS News on Wednesday if he would miss Secret Service protection, Sanders said: "Yes and no — now I don't have to tell anybody when I'm going to the bathroom."

In fact, it is easy to underestimate how important a simpler life can be.

"I'm not sure we realize how difficult that is to be away from home for so long," Grohol said.