‘Social Media War’ can lead to psychological trauma

Apr 15, 2022, 6:24 PM | Updated: Jun 11, 2022, 12:12 am

SALT LAKE CITY — In recent years, mental health professionals have learned a lot about the traumatic impacts of war on troops and civilians in the war zone.

Research shows the war in Ukraine can also have traumatic psychological impacts on people many miles away.

The war in Ukraine has been called the first “social media war.” It’s the first war generating violent, viral videos that people can watch in the palm of their hand. Too much of that can be trouble.

Dr. Steve Sugden is a psychiatrist at Huntsman Mental Health Institute. He’s also a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. So, he has perspective on what happens on the battlefield, and he is a medical expert on the psychological trauma caused by war.

In a video interview, Sugden said the ongoing stream of violent content on multiple platforms draws viewers in to the reality of battle.

“This is the first time that you’ve had individuals in a combat zone video recording on their phones and then uploading that on various social media links. So, people can actually be in the real combat zone,” he said.

For those with a healthy social network who can talk about their experience, it may only lead to a sleepless night.

“But it’s not going to affect us to the same degree as individuals who, for example, have a history of trauma, and then this becomes an aggravating event to that,” Sugden said.

Doom scrolling the war can traumatically impact those without a healthy social network, or people with close ties to the conflict. But when is it too much? What are the signs of trouble?

“The most common one is having difficulty sleeping,” he said. “They might feel that they’re more edgy. They might feel that they’re more irritable.”

Or, if it’s the only thing a person can think about.

“If we don’t have a healthy outlet to be able to discuss those emotions, then that’s where it starts progressing.”

Know when to look away and disconnect from social media for a healthy period of time. Those with a history of trauma and combat veterans may be more vulnerable.

“If you have a family member who is in the military, that individual may also be at greater risk,” the psychiatrist said.

If you take breaks and it’s still affecting sleep, or your relationships and making you edgy.

“If that still continues on and continues on, I think that would definitely be one of the reasons why one would need professional help,” Sugden said.

Those with a history of psychological trauma may experience an acceleration of thoughts of suicide or despair.

“That would also be a reason why somebody would want to get professional help immediately,” he said.

Sugden pointed out that there were similar psychological impacts after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 for those who spent too much time watching the attacks unfold on TV. But”Social Media War” can lead .. to psychological trauma our ability to keep up with the war right on our phones has taken this issue to a different level.

KSL 5 TV Live

Healthy Mind Matters

mother and daughter sit at a table...

Emma Benson

Eating Disorders Awareness Week: How to recognize the signs and get help

Carrie Jackson said when the pandemic hit, her daughter, Emma, started showing signs of an eating disorder.

2 days ago

Lauren Hess has struggled with depression since she was a teen. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects...

Emma Benson

‘You can actually find joy again’: Why Utahns are at higher risk for seasonal affective disorder, how to cope

Seasonal affective disorder affects about 10% of Utahns, according to a Huntsman Mental Health Institute doctor.

1 month ago


Tamara Vaifanua

Free SAFE2FEEL conference teaches coping, confidence-building skills

Mental health experts say there’s an epidemic of loneliness. 

2 months ago

(Laura Warburton)...

Emma Benson

‘Because of Hannah’: Utah mom who lost daughter to suicide provides resources for others

Laura Warburton remembers her daughter, Hannah, as a warrior.

3 months ago

SafeUT app...

Logan Stefanich, 

SafeUT app sees ‘record-breaking’ use in 2023

The SafeUT app saw "record-breaking" utilization during 2023, program leaders and partners announced Tuesday.

4 months ago

Kelsey (left) and Wendy Fayle (right) holding up a NAMI sign. (Courtesy: Wendy Fayle)...

Candice Madsen, KSL TV

NAMI Utah offers free classes for parents and adolescents dealing with mental illness

NAMI is offering free classes for both parents and adolescents that are dealing with mental illness.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

‘Social Media War’ can lead to psychological trauma