Mass shootings affecting Americans psychologically

In the month of June alone, the Gun Violence Archive has reported 25 mass shootings. The May 24th shooting of Robb Elementary School has been the mass shooting that was reported all over the US. Everyone felt upset for the children who lost their lives. Their families are grieving. Politicians around the US are arguing back and forth to look for a solution.

Seeing mass shootings after mass shootings can cause a dispiriting psychological outcome. When a person is continually seeing mass shootings and is constantly watching the news about it,they can have a more intense stress reaction every time. It also leaves the person feeling more hopeless. 

A name that can be put into this is headline stress disorder. Headline stress disorder is a psychological disorder caused by too much news coverage. It is a high emotional response to endless reports from the news. Some people don’t think it’s a real disorder and dismiss it, even though it’s been confirmed by psychologist Dr. Steven Stosney. 

A lot of people were diagnosed with headline stress disorder during the 2016 election. The relentless news coverage during a mass shooting can cause compassion fatigue, which is when a person’s emotional capacity is drained. Some can feel guilt even though they didn’t play a part in the shooting. Professor of nursing and public health at UC Irvine, Dana Rose Garfin, said “Sometimes with mental health, it’s like, we want no anxiety, no stress,’” Garfin said, “but some sort of elevated psychological response can be adaptive and can potentially inspire change.” 

The survivors of the mass shootings can end up having depression, anxiety disorders, trauma, panic attacks, troubled sleeping, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

In an article Local exposure to school shootings and youth antidepressant use , studies found that in the local exposure in the 44 mass shootings they studied from 2006-2015, the use of antidepressants two years after a mass shooting increased by 21.3 percent. The use of antidepressants from three years after a mass shooting increased by 24.5 percent. And after only six months after a mass shooting the use of antidepressants increased by nearly 30 percent. 

But what makes someone vulnerable to long term psychological effects? People that already have mental health problems are more vulnerable to depression. People who don’t have any type of support are more vulnerable as well. A bigger factor is people who were closer to the mass shooting, the victims, and the family of the victims, are the most vulnerable to mental health problems. 

Headline stress disorder may seem impossible to treat, but they’re some solutions to the disorder that can help ease it. You can avoid watching the news or looking at the news. Although some people look at the news all the time, they can’t stop looking at it. 

Some ways to help ease headline stress disorder is by avoiding looking at/watching triggering topics in the news. If you keep up with a news channel and they’re constantly covering triggering events, you should probably not keep up with the channel anymore. You can also limit the amount of news. If you have an Iphone, you most likely have the news app by default, but if you don’t, I’m pretty sure you use google. Try deleting or turning things off to avoid looking at the news. A probably more effective way of getting rid of the stress that headline stress disorder brings, is learning stress management. You could practice stress management or seek help. The last way you could help yourself can be just learning that being stressful in certain situations is normal. Although it might take a while since it has to be something within your control.

If you are in need to talk to someone because you’re suffering from headline disorder, call 1-800-985-5990 for assistance. 

Check out the infographic below for more information on how these mass shootings are affecting Americans.