Can You Get PTSD from News Reports of Tragedies?

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Can you get PTSD from news reports of tragedies? Find the answer here at HealthyPlace

Can You Get PTSD from News Reports of Tragedies?

Is it possible to get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from news reports of tragedies?

When tragedy strikes, the event is often replayed and rehashed in an endless loop, online and off. The recent Amtrak derailment near Tacoma, Washington, that resulted in many casualties is one such traumatic event. The accident was indeed a tragedy, and if you were upset by all of the reports of it, you weren’t alone. Feelings and thoughts can be intense.

While it is possible to experience an extreme stress reaction from repeatedly seeing images from and hearing about a tragedy, this alone won’t lead to PTSD or its short-term counterpart acute stress disorder (ASD). According to the American Psychiatric Association, these requirements must be met for a diagnosis of PTSD or ASD:

  • Directly experiencing a traumatic event such as a serious accident
  • Witnessing a serious accident or event
  • Learning about the event through a news or other report only if the accident or event is violent or unexpected and involves relatives or friends

If you are struggling to deal with information about a traumatic event, be sure to practice self-care and use stress-reduction techniques to deal with reports of tragedies. Rest assured that unless you meet the above criteria, you won’t develop PTSD or ASD from news reports of tragedies.

Related Articles Dealing with PTSD and Tragic Events

Your Thoughts

Today's Question: How do you take care of your mental health when you keep seeing images and hearing news reports of a traumatic event, over and over again? We invite you to participate by sharing your thoughts, knowledge, and experiences on the HealthyPlace Facebook page and on the HealthyPlace Google+ page.


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Last Updated: 09 January 2018

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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