Recent Graphic Images Can Impact Mental Health

Posted at 9:15 AM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-20 10:15:42-04

A local medical health professional said it's not unusual for people to suffer anxiety or depression after seeing the many graphic images from the several recent tragic news stories.

The recent string of terror attacks, mass shootings and attacks on police officers can have a big impact on American’s mental health, according to an expert from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Kimberly Brown, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt Medical School, said it is natural to feel angry, frustrated and even depressed in the wake of recent events. However, if the feelings persist for weeks, it is important to seek professional help.

Dr. Brown said the recent violence can especially impact children. She said it is important for parents to limit their access to graphic images and information, and encourage them to discuss their feelings.

“Children have less ability to understand these things,” said Dr. Brown. “They may perceive it as more of a threat to them than it really is. They may feel the world is more unsafe than it really is.”

Adults also need to take steps to help them cope. Dr. Brown said it is important to remember mass shootings are rare. She recommends people talk about their concerns and try and maintain their routine.

“If you normally exercise  every day, continue to exercise,” said Dr. Brown. “Keep doing things that remind your body the world is consistent, even though these terrible things are happening around us.”

Dr. Brown said it is important to take a break from consuming information on the events.

“At some point you really do need to limit yourself,” said Dr. Brown. “No more looking, no more checking because it’s affecting me and bothering me.”