“Headline Distress Disorder”

I listened to an interview recently with psychologist, Steven Stosny, who came up with the term “Headline Distress Disorder” to label what occurs when people are scrolling through news headlines and becoming distressed at what they are seeing and maybe even feeling hopeless about the state of the world. Her had some fantastic advice about this that I thought I’d share.

After reducing the amount of time spent scrolling through the news he advised:

Read the entire article

Stosny, noted that headlines are designed to stir up anger or fear in order to grab readers’ attention. These days the headlines are often worse than the story. Reading the rest of the article will often give some perspective.

Find physical connection with another human

After reading a headline, or an article, Stosny states that just touching another person can increase the sense of comfort and connection needed to face the world you are reading about. (Ensure that the other human is okay with you touching them before doing so).

Cultivate passion

Stosny spoke about the difference between anger and passion. Anger feels very empowering which is often cathartic in the moment when we might feel powerless but this feeling is not long lasting and takes a lot of energy, leaving us tired when it runs out. Anger has it’s place, for sure, but it is important to also cultivate passion which is a motivator that produces more energy, rather than taking it away. In other words, what do you want to build? Can you model what you want to see in the world?


Check out the entire interview on https://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/news-headlines-getting-you-down-here-s-how-to-protect-your-mental-health-1.5291287

For more on ‘news blues’ check out

Climate Grief

5 Mental Health Hazards to avoid for Allies/wanna-be’s Trying to Stay Woke

Do You Care Too Much?

9 Mental Health Survival Strategies for the Current Apocalypse

5 thoughts on ““Headline Distress Disorder”

  1. Fascinating article. Thank you for sharing. As somebody who worked as a writer and editor in the news media for many years, I want to point out that the writer rarely gets to pick their own headline. It often has to do with space, how important the story is and when it is placed on the page. It doesn’t help that the headline can go through, and be changed by 4-5 people in the process, and not all of them read the story closely. As a writer I can’t tell you how many times I was frustrated with a headline that completely missed the point.


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