Staying up-to-date with current events keeps us aware and informed about the world around us. But while being informed is important, overexposure to negative news can lead to stress and affect your mental health. This article will discuss the psychological effects of overconsuming bad news, offer tips on maintaining healthier consumption habits, and describe how our leading residential rehab and treatment programme can help.

Doomscrolling, Anxiety and stress from excessive online surfing

Psychological Effects of Negative News on Mental Well-being

We are never more than a click away from the latest headlines. Our devices are constantly connected to news sites and social media platforms, churning out content for our consumption. However, this accessibility can lead to the practice of doom scrolling, where individuals spend excessive amounts of time scrolling through social media and news feeds, absorbing content, and being exposed to a lot of negative news.

Doom scrolling can become an addictive behaviour that often starts as a harmless habit but can escalate, affecting overall health, relationships, and daily life. This behaviour can impact your well-being in several ways:

Heightened Stress Levels

The inundation of negative news triggers our body’s stress response. Prolonged exposure can lead to chronic stress, manifesting as anxiety, restlessness, and an inability to focus.

Poor Sleep Quality

Engaging with distressing content, especially before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia, which can impact your overall health and well-being.

Physical Health

Chronic stress and anxiety stemming from compulsive news consumption can manifest physically. It can lead to symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, and digestive problems. In the long term, it may contribute to more serious health issues like heart disease, weakened immune response, and metabolic syndrome.

Lessened Productivity and Focus

Compulsive consumption of news can disrupt daily routines and decrease productivity. The constant need to check for updates can interrupt work or personal tasks, leading to reduced focus and inefficiency.

Distorted Perceptions

Constant exposure to news, particularly negative stories, can lead to cognitive distortions, where individuals may develop a skewed perception of reality. They might start to see the world around them as more dangerous or harmful than it is, leading to a phenomenon known as ‘mean world syndrome’.

A young woman scrolling through the news on her mobile phone

Emotional Numbing

Over time, continuous exposure to traumatic news stories can lead to emotional desensitisation or numbing. This is a defence mechanism where individuals become less sensitive to the emotional impact of news, potentially leading to a lack of empathy and compassion.

Social Withdrawal

People heavily affected by negative news may withdraw from social interactions. This can be due to a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed or from a desire to avoid conversations about topics that they find distressing.

Depression

Continuous overexposure to negative news can contribute to feelings of hopelessness and sadness, which are classic symptoms of depression.

Induced Paranoia or Anxiety Disorders

In extreme cases, continuous exposure to negative or fear-inducing news can lead to heightened states of paranoia or the development of anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) or panic disorder.

Consuming News in a Healthy Way

Just like substance addiction, compulsive news checking can turn into a behavioural addiction. Recognising this pattern is the first step towards addressing it. Compulsive news checking can also induce stress and anxiety that produces substance-seeking or soothing behaviours, which can also be addictive. Self-care is paramount in mitigating the negative psychological effects of bad news. This includes:

Setting Boundaries

Limit news consumption to specific times of the day and avoid it before bedtime to ensure better sleep quality.

Curating Feeds

Be selective about your news sources and content. Follow news outlets that offer balanced perspectives and avoid those that sensationalise negative events.

Meditation and Exercise

Practices like mindfulness and meditation can help you stay grounded and reduce anxiety. Regular physical activity is also known to boost moods and alleviate symptoms of stress and depression.

A young woman doing meditation in a forest

Maintaining Connections

Counterbalance news consumption with activities that uplift your mood, like hobbies or spending time with loved ones. Sharing concerns and feelings about current events with friends or family can provide emotional support.

A Residential Rehab Addressing News Consumption Addiction

For those struggling to manage their news consumption, seeking professional help can be a game-changer. The Cabin Chiang Mai offers a comprehensive residential rehab programme designed to treat behavioural addictions.

Personal and Group Counselling Sessions at The Cabin

Our experienced therapists and counsellors specialise in treating various conditions through compassionate and personalised care. At The Cabin Chiang Mai, we understand that behavioural addiction is multifaceted. As such, our treatment programmes include a mix of individual therapy, group counselling, and holistic practices tailored to each individual’s needs.

The goal of the treatment process is to provide emotional regulation and to introduce a set of skills used to maintain balance and well-being in the face of psychological triggers such as attention-grabbing news headlines.

We offer luxurious accommodations, world-class facilities, and a tranquil environment conducive to healing and recovery. Our comfortable, lavishly furnished rooms and serene surroundings ensure that guests can focus on their well-being away from the triggers and stress of daily life.

Understanding the psychological effects of bad news is critical in today’s information-saturated lives. By adopting healthier news consumption habits and self-care practices, individuals can cope with and prevent these effects from impacting their well-being.

If you are struggling with the stress caused by negative news, professional treatment can offer the necessary support and guidance. It is time to take a step towards healthier coping mechanisms and recovery. Contact The Cabin Chiang Mai today.

About the Author

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Clinical Director at The Cabin (MBPsS, British Psychological Society Number: 479469) Lee is a Registered Member of the British Psychological Society. He graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK with a degree in Behavioural Science and a postgraduate clinical focus on addictions from the University of Bath. Lee is a focused and ambitious individual who has in-depth training and experience in a broad range of clinical psychological interventions in the treatment of addiction, dual diagnosis, and complex trauma.

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