It can be scary when we see realistic depictions of tragic events and real-life trauma. “Orange Is the New Black” showed an inmate dying in a way similar to the death of George Floyd. The new season of “13 Reasons Why” showed a protest against the police, just like our country is currently dealing with. Even though watching tragic events on television can be challenging, it can also provide insight into your own trauma and triggers.

What are the Dangers of Seeing Traumatic Events on Television Shows?

Watching something terrifying that you have been through before can be a triggering experience. You may experience flashbacks of anxiety, isolation, hostility, insomnia, and other symptoms. Even if you have not been through it, you are witnessing a believable depiction of terrible events.

If you are experiencing this secondhand trauma frequently, it can lead to heart problems and psychological issues. What you see on TV can also be an alarming wakeup call to the real-life tragedies that people suffer every day.

How Can You Protect Yourself From Traumatic Events on Television Shows?

If you are experiencing agitation due to what you have watched, check-in with your body and monitor your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths to bring you back to reality. Get in touch with your senses by asking yourself what you see, hear, and taste.

This can help bring you back to the moment and prevent you from becoming consumed by the fiction you are watching. The simplest option when dealing with a negative response is to walk away or turn off the TV. If you are aware that what you are viewing may trigger your trauma, you simply do not need to keep watching.

You are allowed to look away. There is no reason to relive your trauma for entertainment value. Pay attention to any trigger warnings that appear before the episode. Examine your responses to various episodes of television. Have a conversation with your partner, friend, or family member regarding what you watched to explore what caused your reaction. Take control of your trauma by controlling what you watch on television and speak to a professional when symptoms occur.

Trauma is not something you need to relive when trying to relax and watch a television show. At Alta Loma, you can learn to control your PTSD symptoms through individualized therapy, recreational activities, medication management, life skills courses, and more. For more information, please call us at (866) 457-3843.