What is PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition emerging a participant or witness of frightening events. Symptoms include intense anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks—sudden, vivid memories of the experience. PTSD affects every third person who has had a traumatic experience. Most often it appears in people who have been sexually abused or harassed.

Evgenia Smolenskaya

Clinical psychologist.

Not everyone who has experienced traumatic events will develop PTSD. People with risk factors are more susceptible to it. These are considered to be previous violence, depression or bipolar disorder, low level of education and social status, lack of support. The development of the syndrome is also affected by the subjective assessment of the situation: the more unbearable and dangerous it seems to a person, the higher the likelihood of PTSD. The risk increases when a person goes into dissociation – drops out of reality, because the experiences are too strong to cope with.

Who gets PTSD

The syndrome often develops directly among the participants in traumatic events – military operations, terrorist attacks, torture, natural disasters and accidents. However, it can also appear among witnesses – people who did not physically suffer themselves, but only saw a shocking picture or its consequences. For example, PTSD may occur in a child who has experienced violence against their mother, father, or other family member.

Elena Kotova


It is not easy to be a witness to a traumatic situation, especially if a loved one has been injured. Many people live with the idea that the world is fair and that death will not be soon. When they see that something bad is happening to another person, they try this situation on themselves and realize that their beliefs are not entirely correct. It turns out that the danger exists, it is real and sometimes it cannot be influenced.

Doctors, nurses, social workers, who by virtue of their profession often face human tragedy, are also susceptible to the syndrome. This condition is also called vicarious trauma. These are changes in personality that help the patient who has had a painful experience – they similar symptoms of PTSD. Vicarious trauma can develop, for example, in a psychologist who listens to the patient’s stories about the tragedy he experienced. Or family members of a person with PTSD who needs a lot of support. In addition, it can get even the one who did not see anything terrible, but suffered the sudden death of a loved one.

Can you get PTSD just by reading the news?

The probability is low, but not zero. A similar picture was noticed by researchers in Denmark. After two terrorist attacks committed by Anders Breivik in Norway in 2011, by 16% increased number of Danes diagnosed with trauma and stress-related disorders, including PTSD. Scientists have suggested that this growth is due to the fact that the Danes are close to the Norwegians – both geographically and culturally. In addition, the researchers considered that the intense coverage of the terrorist attack in the media partially influenced the situation.

Evgenia Smolenskaya

There are hypersensitive people who take the news to heart. This drains their psyche, causes depressive and anxious experiences, and can lead to the formation of PTSD. Of course, when a person’s life is threatened, he has more risks than when he follows other people’s stories. But if there are many risk factors, then you can get yourself into PTSD without being a direct participant in the event. We are good at imagining tragedy, putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, and can feel our own insecurity due to events in the world.

What else threatens the constant reading of bad news

The abundance of bad news is stress, and he maybe lead to health problems. Anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain will appear, pressure will increase and immunity will deteriorate. chronic stress maybe contribute to the development of heart disease, depression and obesity.

Evgenia Smolenskaya

Chronic stress is a powerful process that can have different consequences. He is able to exacerbate chronic diseases. If mental and physical problems appear, it can be more difficult to cope with everyday tasks, work, be a parent. A person can feel guilty because something is wrong with him, and deprive himself of communication, money, prospects for growth, self-development and self-realization. That is, the problems will grow.

How to reduce the impact of disturbing information

Follow two simple rules: follow the daily routine and information hygiene. You can set yourself a schedule, for example, read the news for no more than an hour a day and only in the morning. This will help you stay on top of things, but not worry about the constant flow of news. Choose reputable sources, do not trust news that does not indicate the author, and anonymous channels – you can run into a fake. Try to sleep at least 7–9 hours a day and do not forget to eat on time and in a balanced way.

Elena Kotova

When a person is in anxiety and stress, he has a tendency to forget about the framework that holds his life. But physiological stress only increases anxiety: it is more difficult for a sleepy, hungry body to cope with experiences.

One of the unpleasant feelings when watching bad news is your own helplessness. To alleviate this feeling, try following these tips:

  • Set yourself challenging goals for the day. Even in a situation of uncertainty, a person needs to plan things that depend on him. You can write down that you are going to call colleagues, go to the store, meet a friend, devote time to a hobby.
  • Move. When you exercise, your body produced endorphins. You also mimic the fight-or-flight response that is triggered by stress. it allows reduce the negative impact of emotions on the body.
  • Enlist the support of loved ones. Find people around you who accept your feelings and share your values, adhere to the rules of environmental communication.
  • Contact a psychotherapist. If you feel that you cannot cope with your emotions, it is difficult for you to concentrate on everyday activities, your sleep and appetite are disturbed for more than two weeks, you can go to a psychotherapist. If necessary, he will prescribe medication.
  • State your values. A clear position will help determine how to act in a difficult situation.

Evgenia Smolenskaya

When there is a feeling of helplessness in the face of a situation, it is important to determine your position. You can say to yourself, “I will do this because.” Even if you still have questions, if significant people disagree with you, the concept that you have formulated will help you to behave constructively in a situation of anxiety and threat.