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Looking at the dangers of doomscrolling to your mental health

Doomscrolling is the compulsion of scouring the internet and social media for negative news. It can do damage to your brain.

CLEVELAND — There is a lot going on in our world right now. From the war in Ukraine, to rising gas and food prices, to still dealing with COVID, it’s enough to weigh any mind down. But if you’re one of those people constantly keeping tabs on all the bad news, you may be doing some damage to your brain.

Doomscrolling is the compulsion of scouring the internet and social media for negative news. Your brain actually has a bad news filter, but when all you do is look for the negative, it may limit your brain’s ability to embrace the good news, which can leave you feeling anxious, depressed and stressed. We saw this happening with the pandemic.

There have been numerous studies done on doomscrolling. It can easily be addictive because we’re all looking for ways to feel safe during uncertain times. But many people do this at night before bed and it can disrupt sleep patterns, cause overeating and weaken the ability to process trauma.

So how do you fight it?

Katherine Lamparyk, PsyD is the Director of Clinical Training and Development at OhioGuidestone, one of the state’s largest providers of behavioral health services.

She says we’re hard wired to think the more we know the better off we’ll be, but not if it’s causing you to become paranoid and anxious. Do a mental health check. When you realize you’re doomscrolling, stop. Log off if you have to and go do something more productive.

If you stay online, make a list of sites on social media that bring you joy. Like cute animal videos.

Limit your exposure to the bad news, especially before bedtime.

Pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed and it’s getting worse, it may be time to seek out a mental health provider.

The good news is likely thanks to the pandemic, more people are recognizing the need for mental health services. The bad news is that there is a shortage of providers across the nation.

OhioGuidestone just received $970,000 to help boost services primarily for 2,400 kids targeted for a new program called OhioRise. In addition the money will create 150 jobs that may help ease the provider burden.

OhioGuidestone’s current wait list is around 200, nearly double what’s typical. The program is expected to be up and running by mid-summer.

Despite long waits, help is still available. Telehealth options can be beneficial or talk to your doctor about any other solutions.

If you’re in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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