Coping with Traumatic News or Media Events



We live in a 24-hour multimedia world, which can at times bring traumatic news, pictures and stories into our homes and lives. Rolling media coverage of an unfolding tragedy can be particularly disturbing for people.

Daily exposure to more than six hours of traumatic news events can leave many of us feeling vulnerable, alienated, depressed, anxious and irritable. We can experience intrusive thoughts and images of the traumatic event. It can also trigger thoughts and emotions connected to past events in our lives. Normal sleep patterns can be disrupted, which further affects our mood and behaviours. These things can make us feel on edge and make us more reactive to stressful events in our own lives.

Some things that can limit the impact of traumatic events distributed on the media:

  • Restrict your exposure to traumatic media reports 

  • ·Increase your use of strategies that support a sense of well-being, such as:

    • Making sure you get enough sleep

    • Exercising regularly

    • Eating well

    • Avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol to cope

    • Spending time with loved ones

    • Doing things you enjoy

    • Get back into your normal routine.


What About Our Children:

Children are especially sensitive to media coverage of disasters. They often worry that the same sort of thing will happen to them or their family because they can have difficulty understanding that these events are discrete, one-off situations.

Things you can do to help your child:

  • Keeping secrets in our media saturated world is not possible and trying to hide events can make things more terrifying. However, parents can limit the amount of media their children are exposed to.

  • They can also watch any media coverage with their children, so they can be on hand to explain what has happened and to answer any questions the children might have. Help your children to understand what has happened and why it has happened. 

  • Speak to your children about their feelings. Provide comfort and physical affection to help them feel safe.

  • Remind them that they are safe

  • Do something the children enjoy, like watching a favourite show or playing a game

  • Remind them there are plenty of good things that happen that don't make the news

  • ·If you are concerned about the level of distress your child is experiencing and/or how long it is lasting, talk to your GP or a Psychologist.


Dr Pamela Seaton