Watching a Lot of Traumatic News Jacks PTSD Risk
Poll follows Boston Marathon attack
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Dec 15, 2013 10:20 AM CST
Watching large amounts of media coverage of a traumatic event may boost the risk of PTSD.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – It may be possible to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder without actually being present for a traumatic event, researchers say: Watching a lot of media coverage may heighten the risk of the disorder. Researchers surveyed 4,675 Americans two to four weeks after the Boston Marathon attack. About 4.5% of those polled had symptoms of "high acute stress," the Los Angeles Times reports. The best predictor of such symptoms: having watched media coverage of the bombings for six or more hours a day.

Having direct exposure to the attacks was also a good predictor, with "direct exposure" being defined as having been at the scene or close to someone who was. Direct exposure to the 9/11 attacks or Sandy Hook shootings also boosted the likelihood of symptoms. But media exposure remained a more powerful predictor. A direct cause-and-effect relationship isn't clear, the Times notes, but researchers suggest that watching a lot of coverage may be a problem for people predisposed to PTSD. "People who are most distressed in the aftermath of such an event are probably more likely to engage media coverage as a way of coping," the scientists note. "Repeated media-based re-exposures may contribute to a self-perpetuating cycle of distress."

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Showing 3 of 16 comments
loveandhope
Dec 18, 2013 8:43 AM CST
I believe this to be true because a lot of people are afraid to watch the news of school shootings or terrorists attacks because they are afraid that maybe it will happen to them or someone that they know. I understand because I don't really like to watch the news either because i admit that with some of the crazy things that i see, I get really scared to even come out of the house sometimes. I've lived in a peaceable neighborhood for about 18 years and just last year, right around the corner from my house, a 12 year old girl was murdered by two teenage boys over a bike. This world is getting crazier and it's always good to be protected.
jabberwocky
Dec 16, 2013 12:35 PM CST
Can you work Sandy Hook into the story? The gun grabber will be very happy.
mehrheit
Dec 16, 2013 9:23 AM CST
Nana Levinn?