How does the news affect my mental health?

Monday 1st July 2024 | Therapy

How does the news affect my mental health?

We know there is a lot of information in the news currently some good, some not so good and with all talk of the general election… it’s hard to get away from things! This can cause us to feel anxious and overwhelmed. There might be some news stories that relate to us personally that can increase our anxieties or even trigger symptoms of trauma. The news is a constant in our lives, it’s on the television, the internet, our social media apps and our phones.. sometimes we might even get notifications of when there is breaking news… so it’s no wonder that it’s hard to get away from!

Many of us will keep up to date with the news to help us stay informed especially where there might be uncertainty (this was helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic). However, research has found that too much news that cause a negative impact on our physical and mental health! This can look like:

  • Anxiety (feelings of worry, dread, on edge)
  • Burnt out (a form of extreme exhaustion physically & mentally when we are weighed down by lots of things at one time)
  • Stress
  • Depression (feeling very sad, upset, low motivation, negative thoughts “it’s all useless”
  • Muscle tension (pain in our shoulders, legs and jaw from clenching or grinding our teeth)
  • Shaking and fidgeting
  • Skin picking or biting our nails


Why might the news be causing me to feel anxious?

There are various reasons why the news might be causing us to feel more anxiety than usual. The first is when we experience something negative (whether that be stress, seeing a hurtful storyline on the soaps or a scary headline in the news) our body will begin to interpret this as a threat and as a result our body begins to release adrenaline to trigger our fight and flight response (to either stay in the situation and fight it or run away) and this in turn increases our anxiety levels. We do experience this in small doses throughout the day (e.g. if I want to walk across the road, I look and no cars are coming but as soon as my foot touches the road a car appears, my adrenaline will release and bring me back onto the kerb… essentially keeping me safe!). However, the body does not recognise when a threat is of danger or of anxiety. Have you ever drank an espresso and then your heart started to race and you felt worried or on edge afterwards? The mind and body cannot identify the differences between caffeine and anxiety.. it assumes it’s a dangerous threat to you!

If we continue to experience a higher level of stress, it can cause physical changes to our health, difficulties sleeping, extreme tiredness and even depression.

The other thing we need to talk about is doom-scrolling! Which is when someone will spend an excessive amount of time looking up negative news stories online… have you ever been caught up in scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, Instagram or TikTok and wondered where time had gone!? Social media is designed in the same way gambling machines are.. they make us scroll upwards so our eyes are constantly looking at the information, hoping to see something completely different and interesting to the point where we get caught up in it. Sometimes, we might doom-scroll with the news in hope to find answers. For example, if we have health anxiety, we might look in the news to find a solution to our worries related to COVID-19. However, it’s rare to feel better after doing this, and often we can become trapped in a vicious cycle which has the opposite affect, leading to strong feelings of anxiety, worthlessness and hopelessness.


This doesn’t sound very positive…. How can I keep myself well around the news?

We aren’t saying that the news is only negative! There are lovely and heart warming stories too (our news channel always ends with a positive story.. usually involving a dog which is a nice way to finish!) but there are many ways to keep ourselves well around the news and media headlines including:

  • Setting boundaries to limit our news intake (this might be to go on our social media apps less or only watch the news once in the morning)
  • Avoiding the news before bedtime (it can affect our sleep – adrenaline doesn’t want us to sleep!)
  • Not having your phone with you at bedtime (placing it in another room)
  • Turn off notifications for the news on your phone
  • Unfollow certain social media accounts if you notice feeling anxious
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling (this can help to process your thoughts but also find solutions)
  • Look at you (do things that might help to de-stress such as a bubble bath, warm shower, cup of de-caf tea or mindfulness for example).


Sometimes, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious and you have tried other things, you can reach out for help. Sometimes, we might need a helping hand or someone to support and guide us (and that’s okay!). You can get in touch with our team by booking an initial appointment online by clicking here. You can also email us at