Researchers at the University of California at Irvine have found that media coverage of a terrorist attack is just as powerful an effect on the human psyche as being at the event itself.
The team at UC Irvine observed that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could be developed within an individual’s mind from simply watching media coverage on a terroristic event.
The study entitled, “Media’s Role in Broadcasting Acute Stress Following the Boston Marathon Bombings”, claims that “media coverage of collective traumas may trigger psychological distress in individuals outside the directly affected community.”
Findings concluded that “repeated bombing-related media exposure was associated with higher acute stress than as with direct exposure. Media coverage following a collective trauma can raise the severity of the stress.
This unique study compares the impact of direct vs. indirect media-based community trauma exposure on acute stress responses.”
Roxane Cohen, co-author of the study cautions Americans against being “repeatedly exposed throughout the day to a variety of sources of media.”
This internet-based survey polled 5,000 Americans in the 2 to 4 weeks after the Boston Marathon Bombing (BMB).
Of those participants, 1% was at the event; 9% knew someone close to them who attended the event; another 9% were directly affected by the event.
Whether participants were exposed to the BMB by television broadcasts, radio news or internet, it became clear to researchers that there was an acute rise in stress that was palatable for both those who learned about the event and those who were there.
It was surmised that if a person consumed more than 6 hours of news about the BMB or bombing-related news coverage, that person was 9 times more likely to have symptoms of high acute stress (HAS).
HAS is a patented psychological disease with symptoms such as:
• Low mood
• Emotional ups and downs
• Poor sleep
• Poor concentration
• Wanting to be alone
• Feeling sick
• Chest pain
• Abdominal pains
• Breathing difficulties
Respondents said that they “try to avoid thoughts” about the BMB, felt “hypervigilant” or “on edge” and reported symptoms under predetermined criteria of:
Five percent of the participants reported those symptoms.
Alan Holman, lead author of the study explained : “We underestimate the role of media exposure to graphic images. It’s not just seeing it once; my concern is the repetitive viewing. If seeing those images over and over produces more rumination or habitual worrying, even at a subconscious level, it could be contributing to mental or physical ailments.”
Alison Holman, professor of nursing science at UC Irvine, said : “There is mounting evidence that live and video images of traumatic events can trigger flashbacks and encourage fear conditioning. If repeatedly viewing traumatic images reactivates fear or threat responses in the brain and promotes rumination, there could be serious health consequences.”
The 5th addition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) explains that there are many types of PTSD that an individual can develop throughout their life.
Children as young as 6 have been diagnosed with preschool PTSD .
Dissociative PTSD is described as:
• Having direct exposure
• Learning from a friend or close relative
• Extreme indirect exposure
Should the individual have reoccurring, involuntary memories, traumatic nightmares, dissociative reactions and intense distress after exposure it is understood that they are suffering from PTSD.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recommends Zoloft and Paxil for treatment of PTSD as approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Zoloft has been known to cause :
• Suicidal thoughts
• Birth defects
• Hostility and aggression
Paxil is known to cause all of the same “side effects” as Zoloft.
Soldiers coming home from wars such as in Iraq and Afghanistan are being diagnosed with PTSD like it is going out of style. It is being reported that this new trend in the VA is actually misdiagnosing former service men and women.
The Army officially considers PTSD as a “treatable mental disorder” and claims that they never misdiagnosed soldiers in 2008.
Ironically, those who were found to have PTSD sky-rocketed; including personality disorders which proved to have serious consequences in as far as benefits, a stigma of insanity and being treated as a ticking time-bomb.