It has now been two weeks since George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Do you find yourself needing to read every post about the case and it’s aftermath on Facebook or Twitter? Are you obsessively watching the ongoing coverage on MSNBC or Fox? Engaging in emotional debates about the stories surrounding the tragedy and the implications surrounding Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal? If so, it’s likely that you may be feeling stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, and angry—moreso than normal. You also may be experiencing a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
While coverage of post-trial reactions has slowed down, many of us find it difficult to escape the constant conversation surrounding all aspects of the case, which range from the realities of racism and violence to the various forms of inequities in this country. The frustration around race and violence is heightened for many of us who have seen Fruitvale Station, the timely and moving adaptation of the life of 22 year-old Oscar Grant—who was shot and killed by a BART Police Officer in Oakland in 2009. It’s very easy to feel down at a time like this.
Media consumption during a time like this can be possibly traumatic. The killing of Trayvon Marion, the delayed arrest, and the ‘not guilty’ verdict have affected many of us deeply. Even though not officially a part of DSM-5— American Psychiatric Association’s process for diagnosing and treating mental illness)—some mental health experts are now calling it “media-induced PTSD” from too much exposure to news and media following a traumatic incident(s). The US Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD reports that children and adults who watched the most post 9/11 coverage had more stress symptoms than those who watched less.
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)