Can social media really cause post-traumatic stress disorder

PTSD and the internetPost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is typically a reaction to a very stressful, frightening or distressing event so it seems unlikely that anyone could suffer from simply sitting at home on their computer.

A recent study has hit the headlines however which is claiming that some social media users are being left traumatised by viewing violent or disturbing content online. The controversial study even went as far as to compare the symptoms to those that are typically found in soldiers who have been to war.

The research was carried out by Doctor Pam Ramsden, a researcher at the University of Bradford. She found that more than a fifth of respondents scored high on clinical measures of PTSD simple from seeing pictures on social media even though they hadn’t actually experienced the events first-hand.

Even though the study didn’t definitely diagnose the respondents, Ramadan commented:

“If a particular person who scored high on the scale came into a GP’s office, we could easily diagnose them with PTSD because they have the same symptoms. On television you get a warning that the upcoming story could be disturbing. You don’t get that kind of warning on social media. Now everything is on YouTube things like car accidents and other disturbing things are being viewed millions of times. ”

Walter Busuttil from the mental health charity, Combat Stress added:

“There is a level of resilience that may be very high in some people and very low in others and social media may actually affect particularly vulnerable people. This study is not saying that people develop PTSD however, it’s saying that we can detect some symptoms that are measurable that are similar to PTSD.”

Please feel free to visit our Knowledge Centre if you would like more information about post-traumatic stress disorder, what the symptoms are and what can cause it.

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