Headline Stress Disorder

Headline Stress Disorder

Reading the news can often be quite stressful and elicit emotional discomfort. Moreover, when the news is particularly worrying, it may cause anxiety and make it difficult to cope with. The year 2020 has been marked by mounting psychological distress because of ongoing worrying events. It may seem that we have entered an era of bad news. Every day since the past few years, newspapers have been swarming with stressful headlines of the coronavirus, failing economies, ecological disasters, civic unrest and violent events.

Headline stress disorder

The psychological disorder caused by too many news coverages is referred to as headline stress disorder [1]. Although not a medical diagnosis, the condition was first defined by psychologist Dr. Steven Stonsy as a high emotional response, such as feelings of stress and anxiety, to endless reports from the news media. The continued stress and anxiety may cause functional disorders, including, insomnia, chest tightness and palpitations. Moreover, further progression of the disorder may lead to physical and mental disorders, such as high blood pressure, endocrine disorders, anxiety and depression disorders.
So, what can one do to overcome the constant cycle of worry associated with negative news throughout different media outlets? While anxiety related to negative news has probably existed for centuries, it has become more daunting since recent years. According to a survey, more than half of Americans say that the news causes them stress. Likewise, many have also reported feeling anxious and fatigued. However, despite the stressful response, one in 10 adults check the news every hour and 20% of Americans constantly monitor their social media feeds for latest news headlines [2].

Many people feel that it is important to stay informed and that is quite understandable but concerning news can trigger stress and anxiety. Similarly, according to Steven Stosny ‘s observation, headline stress disorder particularly affects female clients. The grueling news cycle triggers and intense feeling of helplessness and worry. A study from 2012 states that women are better at remembering negative news for longer periods compared to men [3]. What’s more, they have more persistent psychological reaction to stress triggered by grueling news. “Many feel personally devalued, rejected, unseen, unheard, and unsafe. They report a sense of foreboding and mistrust about the future,” Stosny writes [1].
According to another survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), people in the United States between August 2016 and January 2017 reported an overall increase in stress level from 4.8 to 5.1. On the scale, 1 means little or no stress, whereas, 10 means extremely high levels of stress. The researchers further stated that this was the first significant increase in the average levels of stress. In addition to this, the worldwide shutdown because of the novel coronavirus has had a deleterious effect on health. It caused an increase in mental health disorders and physical disorders including weight gain, headache and high blood pressure [5].

1. Overcoming Headline Stress Disorder
2. You Asked: Is It Bad for You to Read the News Constantly?
3. There Is No News Like Bad News: Women Are More Remembering and Stress Reactive after Reading Real Negative News than Men
4. Many Americans Stressed about Future of Our Nation, New APA Stress in America™ Survey Reveals
5. Coping with coronavirus