PTSD by Media
In a world that never switches off, with mobile, tablet, desktop or TV news feeds of the latest crisis or calamity instantly available and in full colour HD, de-sensitisation is not the only potential problem. This could be seriously compromising general mental health too.
Psychologists are warning that our constant exposure to war, natural disasters, economic catastrophe, horrific murders and human misery could be sending our stress levels higher, as well as affecting our long-term equilibrium.
‘Secondary Trauma’ can induce symptoms similar to Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder – depression, anxiety and stress – even though they experience traumatic events second-hand. Some people lose the ability to separate things that happen to other people from their own personal experience. Constant bad news in the media can affect up to 10% of the public in this way.
People already suffering from some form of mental health issues are most at risk, but as up to 1 in 5 Australians will be in this category to some degree each year, this makes some self-regulation of what and how often we view such programs a question many of us need to ask ourselves. It’s no use expecting the media or the government to regulate this. Let’s face it, what sort of news attracts the most viewers or readers?
Not the good news!
What you can do
- Learn to switch media off unless needed
- Stay informed, but limit your exposure
- Choose an objective, non-sensationalist news service
- Help in your own way, perhaps by contributing to a relief fund
- Discuss bad events, but don’t dwell on them
- Divert or stay away from people who do