What You Watch Affects Your Depression

What You Watch Affects Your Depression
Have you ever noticed the way you feel after you’ve watched something really sad? What about after watching something violent? Or funny? The things we watch, read, and hear definitely affect our depression, and the way the media affects me has become overwhelmingly evident in recent weeks.

There have been a lot of shows on lately which discuss the predictions (by three ancient civilizations) that the world would end in 2012. I’m not convinced, but I have to admit that it planted a little seed of concern in my mind. Actually, it’s probably more than that, because I’ve thought about what I’d like to do with my life if I only have until December 21, 2012 to do it. Not exactly a happy train of thought.

Then, of course, you have “Forensic Files,” “Cold Case Files,” “First 48” and “Nancy Grace”—-all real-life stories, almost always about murder. And don’t forget “CSI,” “Law and Order,” “NCIS” and myriad other fictitious murder stories. In my opinion, these are some of the best shows on TV, but is the content advisable for someone who suffers from depression? Probably not.

I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t watch the crime shows, I wouldn’t be so afraid every time my daughter went out, and maybe I wouldn’t have to fight off a full-blown panic when she’s a few minutes late coming home.

There are also some interesting, informative and terrifying shows about the very real possibility of such things as 8.0 earthquakes on the New Madrid fault (which would obliterate Memphis—-too close for comfort!), mega volcanoes in Yellowstone National Park (which could end life as we know it), and giant asteroids colliding with Earth (total killer—-not even cockroaches or Cher would survive!). Again, these are really good shows, but maybe not the best choice for those who are prone to depression.

What about the news? On local news, you might see the names and faces of those arrested for murder, rape, child abuse, etc. You hear the names of those killed in auto accidents or house fires, and you listen intently, hoping to not hear the names of people you know. I haven’t watched local news for about 25 years because I realized how bad it made me feel.

My TV used to stay on Fox News about 90% of the time. I really like the coverage, as well as the shows and hosts. However, in the past couple of years, it seems to be all bad news. I turn it on for a while, but I get so upset, I have to turn it off. I want to be informed, but not at the risk of becoming more depressed.

The books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, and everything to which we are exposed affects us in some way. I know I feel much better after I watch “Dan in Real Life” than I do when I watch “Last House on the Left.” Both are great movies, but laughing works much better for me.

Many times, we are drawn to things that hurt us or have a negative affect on us. Just because a show is interesting and informative doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for someone who suffers from depression. We have to be careful about what we allow into our minds.

I even had to stop watching soap operas about 20 years ago. I’d find myself feeling really stressed and bothered, but not sure what was causing the feelings. I’d think about it for a while and realize that I was worried about a character on a TV show! It was a difficult addiction to break, but one that I’ve never been tempted to embrace again.

You might not realize how all forms of media affect you, but they do. Try avoiding things that have negative messages or images. You wouldn’t drink dirty water, so why pollute your mind with negativity?

Focus on positive things. Read an inspirational book or watch a funny movie. Granted, there’s a lot more from which to choose if you’re looking for the negative, but good things are out there. Seek them out and pay attention to how you feel. You’ll notice a huge improvement in your mood, and less anxiety, too.

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