Watching News About the Coronavirus Can Be Traumatizing

There are many questions swirling around as to whether the coronavirus pandemic truly warrants the extreme measures being taken. What we do know is that hyperarousal is not healthy.  Hyperarousal is a state of hyper vigilance in response to a stressful event, and as the coronavirus ordeal unfolds we may want to be aware of the possible consequences.

In her article in Psychology Today, Watching the News Can Be Traumatizing, Danielle Render Turmaud, said that in today's era of technology we can find ourselves flooded with stories of violence and tragedy. 

Turmaud says "This is common knowledge, as we can open our phones or laptops and almost instantly see videos of mass shootings, images of plane crashes, stories of sexual exploitation, headlines about terrorist attacks, or images of the destruction of natural disasters. We can easily find our daily lives unexpectedly inundated with graphic depictions of trauma and violent events."

Turmaud explains "A concept that may be misunderstood, or unknown by many, involves the vulnerability of the human brain to be negatively impacted by traumatic events even if we haven't personally experienced them. This concept is called vicarious traumatization. Vicarious traumatization has given us an understanding that witnessing traumatic events or even just having knowledge of the events can have negative consequences on our mental health."

Every news station that you turn on now has a solemn-faced newscaster reporting on the latest deaths from the coronavirus.  We are incessantly bombarded with images of worried people in stores with carts piled high with toilet paper and water.  We're shown images of workers in Hazmat suits, and videos "turn up" of people dropping dead in China.  This can not be healthy for even the strongest among us and has to lead to trauma to one degree or another.

According to Medpage, hyperarousal is linked to PTSD, a condition brought on by a traumatic event. The sorts of events that might cause PTSD include:

  • a robbery
  • a car crash
  • a sexual assault
  • military experiences
  • childhood abuse
  • domestic abuse
  • a fire
  • a terrorist attack
  • a natural disaster

The symptoms of hyperarousal according to Medpage are the following:

  • find it hard to go to sleep or stay asleep
  • feel irritable and quickly lose their temper
  • find it hard to concentrate
  • constantly feel on-guard (hypervigilance)
  • be more impulsive than usual
  • feel like their muscles are more tense than usual
  • feel pain more easily
  • feel their heart beating faster than usual
  • feel jumpy and be startled easily
  • breathe more quickly or less deeply than usual
  • have flashbacks about a traumatic event

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms it may be a good idea to turn off the TV. 

Our best advice is to prepare sensibly, take precautions, and turn off the news.

1 comment

  • Sherri

    Best advice I’ve heard.

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