Help! The News Is Making Me Feel Depressed

Our resident psychiatrist Samantha Boardman has the antidote to news-induced stress.

Woman sitting on couch reading newspaper
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Q: The news these days makes me feel either depressed or outraged and ultimately defeated. How do I channel those feelings into something positive?

Studies show the barrage of disturbing and infuriating stories can worsen feelings of anxiety, lead to sadness, and flip you into a bad mood. Negative news stories have also been shown to exacerbate personal worries unrelated to the content of the story itself. In other words, a story about a disheartening political situation can amplify concerns about your relationship.

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The 24/7 news cycle is emotionally draining. It’s so easy to tumble down the rabbit hole of live updates as an event unfolds. The irony is that following a breaking event may make us feel more involved but does not necessarily make us more informed. Most of the time, it’s noise, not news.

So how do we stay on top of the issues without feeling overloaded? The key is to optimize how, when, and from where you get your news. Here are a few tips that have helped me and my patients stay sane:

  1. Turn off notifications and digital alerts from news sources on all your devices.
  2. Designate a time—either once or twice a day—to get your news fix from an established source, not social media.
  3. Read or watch stories that intelligently present digested and reliable information about what has happened.
  4. Skip commentary and media that predict what might happen. Listening to pundits and so-called experts weigh in on the future is basically glorified gossip. Learn the facts; don’t follow opinions.
  5. Avoid checking the news first thing in the morning and before bed, which might hijack your day or interfere with sleep.

    Once you gain control over your news consumption, not only will you be calmer and more productive, you’ll be better informed and in a position to make better decisions about what you want to do about what you’ve learned.

    Dr. Samantha Boardman is a clinical instructor in psychiatry and an assistant attending psychiatrist at Weil Cornell Medical College in New York and the the founder of positivepercription.com.

    A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Marie Claire.

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