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“On television or even on the radio, you get a warning: ‘The following story could be disturbing’. You don’t get that kind of warning on social media,” she says. “Now everything is on YouTube, and things that we don’t necessarily even pick up on are being viewed millions of times – car accidents, all kinds of disturbing things.”
“We really can’t censor those things, and I’m not for censorship. What I’m saying is that people need to be aware that those images can cause disturbances or add to life stress,” she says. “In the same way that if you eat fast food all the time, it’s going to be bad for your health. In the same way, if we’re viewing violent images all the time, I believe it can have a significant impact on our mental health.”
One key risk factor which might trigger PTSD symptoms is repeated viewing – in other words, people who unwittingly stumble upon violent content are highly unlikely to develop long-term problems. And there are very good therapies to treat PTSD even long after the traumatic events have occurred, according to Busuttil. The bottom line, experts say, is that if you have or think you have PTSD symptoms, it’s important to seek help from your doctor.