The year 2020 was a challenging season for so many people. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, nationwide shutdowns, political turmoil, and social injustices, people worldwide have been experiencing anxiety and uncertainty about the future.
One of the most significant stress and anxiety sources during 2020 was the news, particularly for people who use social media daily. Today, information is available on any digital platform where content is shareable. And it’s increasingly difficult to determine which news story is factual and which claims are a hoax.
As we kick off 2021, now is the perfect time to work on forming healthy habits and moving away from the bad habits you might have picked up in 2020, such as obsessively checking the news. This way of thinking is significant for people who deal with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and may be extra sensitive to fear-provoking headlines.
Are You Guilty of Doom Scrolling?
For most people, scrolling is part of their daily routine, whether on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or even CNN. And in 2020, many people fell victim to a new phenomenon, eloquently referred to as “doom scrolling.” Doom scrolling is the act of obsessively consuming news that is sad, depressing, upsetting, or alarming in some way.
Experts say that doom scrolling was an issue long before the COVID-19 pandemic started. Social media is a major source of depression for many people, and data shows that depression rates are rising due to exposure to social media. This situation is particularly problematic for teenagers who grew up using social media platforms.
On a conscious level, we know that obsessively reading the news is bad for our mental health. But it turns out that the brain is hardwired to seek negativity. Doom scrolling makes us feel like we can control the scary things that are happening around us. In reality, most of those situations are out of our control, leaving us feeling worse.
People who suffer from OCD may be more likely to engage in doom scrolling and have a more challenging time breaking from the habit. Not only can it trigger obsessions and compulsions, but it can also create other mental health and emotional issues, such as depression and trauma.
Tips for Managing Your OCD While Staying Informed
Staying informed is more important than ever before, but there’s a fine line between consuming the news and scrolling the news with social media. If you’re someone who suffers from OCD, there are ways to stay on top of reports without getting overly anxious about negative stories. Try these tips to stay informed in 2021 without falling victim to doom scrolling.
Choose your sources wisely
These days, it can seem like every website and every person is claiming to be a credible news source, but the term “fake news” is authentic. It’s essential to make sure you’re consuming news from credible and trusted sources and to do your research when you have read unfounded claims.
In 2021, choose your news sources wisely and stick to them. For instance, commit to reading news from online news sites only, like CNN, Fox News, The Atlantic, or The Wall Street Journal. If you can, avoid getting your news from sources like Twitter or Facebook, making it harder to validate sources. The news won’t be any less damaging, but you can have confidence that you’re getting the honest facts straight from the source.
Set a time limit
When you’re mindlessly scrolling through the news, time flies by without you even realizing it. It’s easy to get caught up in doom scrolling, and when you’re reading one negative story after another, the mental health consequences can affect you almost immediately. For people who suffer from OCD, one of the most effective ways to stop scrolling is to set a timer.
If you read the news on your phone or computer, give yourself a hard time limit. If possible, commit to scrolling for 20 minutes or less. You’ll quickly realize that you can get the news highlights in just a few minutes, and so there is no need to spend hours reading every story you come across.
Another good suggestion is to set boundaries for yourself around the news. For example, if you’ve noticed that checking the news every morning leaves you feeling drained or hopeless, find a different cadence that works better for you. One way to create boundaries is to switch up your news consumption schedule.
Instead of reading the news every day, try reading it every few days (after setting your timer). You’ll still get the biggest highlights without exposing yourself to negative stories daily. You can also sign up for a free news roundup that gets sent to your email inbox weekly or bi-weekly with a digest of the most important stories from the week.
Treatment for OCD in Los Angeles
OCD is a manageable condition, and now more than ever, OCD sufferers need to get the treatment they require. Most people who struggle with OCD can manage their symptoms with talk therapy and medication. However, others might suffer from OCD and not respond well to conventional treatments.
If you’re struggling with treatment-resistant OCD, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy might improve your symptoms. TMS is a non-invasive, FDA-approved treatment that requires no downtime.
TMS uses electromagnetic waves to change activity in some regions of the brain, which improves the flow of information between neurotransmitters and neural pathways to alleviate OCD symptoms. People who receive TMS treatment for OCD report having fewer distressing symptoms after four weeks of continuous treatment.
If you’re interested in learning more about TMS therapy at Pulse, contact us at (310) 878-4346.