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Can Social Media Cause PTSD?

Can Social Media Cause PTSD?

Author: Justin Mckibben

In case you were still skeptical, social media has become a significant element of our society… definitely. We have evolved into a culture that circulates information and cultivates emotional and ethical responses based on the shares, likes and comments associated with our tweets, posts and pics. Social media has been credited with being both helpful and detrimental to depression depending on the context, and now there is another aspect of mental health that some suspect is being threatened by our threads.

A new study is suggesting that observing violent news events via social media can actually cause people to experience symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How much of an impact can our videos have, and could this be the beginning of a whole new brand of stress and trauma diagnosis?

Sharing Our Stress

Dr. Pam Ramsden from the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Bradford presented this concept back on Thursday May 7th 2015 at the Annual Conference of the British Psychology Society being held in Liverpool. Here Dr. Ramsden explained:

“The negative effects of exposure to other people’s suffering have long been recognized in roles such as professional healthcare workers. Various studies have documented the negative psychological reactions following indirect exposure to traumatized people called vicarious traumatization.”

This refers to incidences where individuals in several fields including healthcare professionals experienced trauma through others and ultimately were affected by that shared experience. Someone reliving their trauma and expressing it to another person can take a toll on that person. Hearing the grotesque and gruesome details can create a kind of second-hand shock and stress. Ramsden went on to say,

“Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail. Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact on our daily lives. In this study we wanted to see if people would experience longer lasting effects such as stress and anxiety, and in some cases post-traumatic stress disorders from viewing these images.”

So when we see something brutal or violent happen online through videos, images and dialog we can still feel that impact, even though some have suggested we become disconnected from the images and words on the screen and dehumanize the victims, it appears this is not always the case.

Assessing the Trauma

189 participants around the age of 37 years old with an almost even equal number of men and women completed a few tests for trauma including:

  • Clinical assessments for PTSD
  • A personality questionnaire
  • A vicarious trauma assessment
  • A questionnaire concerning different violent news events on social media or the internet

The violent events used for this test included the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks, school shootings and suicide bombings. The details of the examination indicated:

  • 22% of participants were significantly affected by the media events
  • 1/4 of those who viewed the intense internet images scored high on clinical measures of PTSD

The fact that these individuals scored high on clinical measures of PTSD was a very concerning development considering that they experienced this level of stress despite:

  • They did not have previous trauma
  • They were not present at the traumatic events
  • They had only watched them via social media

There was also an increased risk for those with outgoing, extroverted personalities. So those social butterflies that are more likely to share and comment were also those that could be more sensitive to the effects of being exposed to violent and graphic material on social media.

So by exposing ourselves to such extreme and foul content we are increasing the risks of PTSD, and possibly even creating a whole new brand of it. Extensive research into the trend of internet addiction and some kind of dependence on social media has already begun, as debates continue on the influence social media makes on depression.

So is it safe to assume that with all the sway social media has over us that we should be careful of all the distasteful and uncensored stories and depictions we take in?

Are we as a society overloading ourselves online with images and audio that intoxicate our anxiety and compound with our already rattled reasoning to create new levels of trauma?

What new methods of diagnosis and treatment could come from PTSD inspired by social media?

For now we should remember that the impressions these sites have are real for some people. Some have been oppressed by these unstable emotional ties to their online lives, while others have been liberated by the sense of connection. Whatever way you believe, your social media can change your mind if you let it.

An issue like PTSD is nothing to take likely, and mental health has a serious impact on the quality of life and possibility of recovery for anyone struggling with substance abuse issues. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Vets with PTSD Smoke Marijuana for Government Study

Vets with PTSD Smoke Marijuana for Government Study

By Cheryl Steinberg

When you think “PTSD,” you probably imagine our war veterans returning home who are dealing with debilitating mental illness – especially post-traumatic stress disorder. Although PTSD can affect anyone who has experienced or even witnessed a traumatic event, our veterans, by far, make up a large portion of Americans with this form of mental illness.

With marijuana gaining more and more acceptance in the country, for both medical and recreational use, its high time we made it possible for vets to reap any benefits cannabis may have.

Well, now for the first time, vets who suffer from PTSD will be allowed to smoke marijuana as part of a government-backed study.

Vets with PTSD Smoke Marijuana for Government Study

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently decided to expand the nation’s marijuana cultivation program – in which it contracts with the University of Mississippi to grow marijuana for use in research studies – opening the door for new treatment studies to be conducted.

The contract was renewed in 2015, leading the way for more new treatment studies.

And now, one of the most significant studies that’s been caught up in red tape is finally coming to fruition: a study designed to help our military veterans cope better with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.NIDA will supply new strains of federally-grown cannabis to the researchers. NIDA’s goal for its new growth program is to keep up with all of the diverse strains of cannabis that are currently being offered by the medical marijuana industry.

American Vets and PTSD

The Veterans Affairs Department estimates that between 11% and 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans respectively suffer from PTSD. Given the military-induced severity of post-traumatic stress disorder, it is hoped the marijuana will provide relief to thousands of veterans that fought so bravely for their country.

The Study

Seventy-six veterans will take part in the study that will measure the effects of different potencies of marijuana that is smoked in treating their symptoms related to PTSD.

A spokesman for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Brad Burge, explained that the research project is, “the first whole-plant marijuana study.” This means that the marijuana used in the study will not be manufactured into a pill or a drink form; this PTSD study will actually allow the participating veterans to use marijuana as a medicine by smoking it.

Although the federal government approved the study a year ago, it has been on hold, pending approval by NIDA in order to gain access to the drug supply needed. Now that NIDA has renewed the contract with U of Miss., it looks like the study is finally going to be a ‘go.’

A major challenge of the study is that, thus far, NIDA has only produced three of the four strains of marijuana needed for the research. This includes a “placebo” strain. “We have approval to purchase it from NIDA, but they won’t give us a time estimate on when they’ll be able to deliver it,” Burge said.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a psychiatric disorder, such as PTSD, and has turned to drugs in order to cope, this can lead to more emotional and physical problems. Dual diagnosis treatment is available, which treats all issues simultaneously for the best treatment outcomes. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

5 Illegal Drugs That Will Cure You

5 Illegal Drugs That Will Cure You


By Cheryl Steinberg

You may or may not be aware of this but, some of the highly-illegal drugs today were once used in virtually any kind of cough drop, tincture, or formula to treat anything from cough to nausea to insomnia. And many of these medical preparations that included drugs like heroin and cocaine we even available over-the-counter!

Nowadays, there are much stricter regulations on what have been found to be illicit drugs, as well as other drugs that are prescribed for our ailments.

But, there are some surprising ways in which illicit drugs are being used today. Here are 5 illegal drugs that will cure you

#1. Cocaine for wound care

First, cocaine is an effective local anesthetic and, once applied, it numbs the area very quickly, usually in less than two minutes. Secondly, cocaine is effective at stopping the bleeding; it’s a vasoconstrictor, which is a drug that constricts – or narrows – the blood vessels. The smaller a blood vessel gets, the bleeding occurs.

Even many pediatricians recommend using cocaine on children’s wounds because of cocaine’s properties that make it a valuable tool for treating cuts and lacerations.

#2. LSD for Alcoholism

Studies show that your chances of staying away from alcohol will be dramatically increased after tripping on acid. There was an extensive study done in the 1960s and ’70s that revealed how recovering alcoholics are much less likely to drink to excess and how some even stopped drinking altogether for several months.

The reason why this works could be due to the LSD helping the participants to feel more confident, happy and satisfied with their lives, which, in turn, decreased the feelings they had that led most of them to abuse alcohol in the first place. The alcohol-abstaining effects from the one LSD trip lasted for about six months, at which point, if LSD were legal, the patients would be able to return to a treatment clinic for another dose, repeating the process until they were able to transition into sobriety.

#3. Heroin for women in labor

Heroin is an opiate, in the same class of drugs as painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine. However, heroin itself is actually much more effective than morphine and takes effect in about two or three minutes. In fact, The National Health Service (NHS) in Britain recommends giving it to people in extreme pain, people in surgery, and women in labor.

Now, just to be clear, the NHS is, in fact, made up of medical professionals. The practice in Britain is to give women in labor an injection of heroin to help with the contractions as they give birth. The one-time use doesn’t do any damage and doesn’t cause dependency, because it is only administered when the baby is on its way out of its mother’s body.

#4. MDMA for PTSD

MDMA, or Ecstasy, has been shown to help treat people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The reason for this is actually the same reason that the drug is popular for recreational use: It releases large amounts of the feel-good chemicals serotonin and oxytocin in your brain, which makes you relaxed, euphoric, and feel at ease. This results in relieving the stress experienced by PTSD sufferers.

When used in a therapeutic setting, MDMA allows PTSD patients to relive their experiences more easily, which is crucial to overcoming the disorder. Ecstasy lets the sufferers do so without being overwhelmed, by activating the area of the brain responsible for controlling fear and stress. Over time, this results in long-term reduction of fear.

#5. Methamphetamine for ADHD and obesity

Desoxyn, the purest form of meth, is prescribed to obese people for quick short-term weight loss. It’s only prescribed as a short-term treatment for obvious reasons, since meth is highly addictive as well as overall catastrophic to your well-being. Meth is rarely prescribed in this way and only when all other treatments fail.

Desoxyn is also prescribed by U.S. doctors to treat ADHD. Considering that sufferers of ADHD typically exhibit symptoms of jitteriness and inattentiveness, which are also associated with meth use, it nevertheless has a therapeutic effect on people with ADHD. When it comes to the brain, nothing is simple, and meth. Like other stimulants, helps regulate brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Drugs and dosage are carefully controlled by your medical providers who can monitor the results and adjust your medication accordingly by a medical professional who can monitor the results. In general, you shouldn’t self-medicate any medical problem with alcohol or illicit drugs and you should only take medications as prescribed. If you are struggling with substance abuse and or a psychological disorder, such as PTSD, ADHD, or depression, Palm Partners is here for you. We offer dual diagnosis treatment for people who are ready to end the cycle of drug abuse. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Treatment for Addiction and PTSD

 Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Treatment for Addiction and PTSD

If you struggle with PTSD or another psychological disorder, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, you may have turned to alcohol and/or other substances as a way to self-medicate. This is quite common. Especially in the case of PTSD.

Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Treatment for Addiction and PTSD: PTSD Explained

PTSD is most commonly associated with war veterans however it can affect anyone who has experienced some kind of traumatic event. A person might develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if they are exposed to trauma either firsthand or as a witness, such as sexual assault, serious injury, or threats of imminent death. A diagnosis of PTSD is made based on the presence of certain symptoms, such as disturbing and recurrent flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and a perpetual state of fight-or-flight (called hyperarousal), that continue for more than a month after the traumatic event.

Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Treatment for Addiction and PTSD: What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a clinical term used to describe a person who has both a psychological disorder and a substance use disorder. The relationship between the two is complex, and treating people with co-occurring – or co-existing – issues that involve substance abuse and mental illness can be more complicated than the treatment of either condition alone. Therefore there is great need for dual diagnosis treatment that is specifically designed to treat all conditions simultaneously so that healing and recovery can begin.

Dual diagnosis outpatient treatment for addiction and PTSD is especially important to treat those with these coexisting conditions who wish to continue to work or need to be at home, such as to care for family members (i.e. children, ailing parents) and other family-related matters.

Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Treatment for Addiction and PTSD: What is Outpatient?

Outpatient treatment refers to a level of care that is the most flexible and that allows you to fulfill your personal and professional day-to-day duties while getting the help you need. Outpatient programs offer either day- or night-sessions that occur for 5, 3, or 1 day a week, depending on level of intensity and that last for about three hours.

Dual diagnosis outpatient treatment for addiction and PTSD includes a variety of therapeutic programs in which you will attend classes and therapy sessions – both group and individual – at regular intervals at the treatment facility you choose.

The specific types of therapy available in a dual diagnosis outpatient treatment for addiction and PTSD setting include:

Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Treatment for Addiction and PTSD: Benefits

For some, inpatient rehab is required in order to get them back on the right track. For others, a less-intensive therapeutic environment is more fitting. It’s up to you and your doctor and/or therapist to decide.


Flexibility is important because a more flexible dual diagnosis outpatient treatment for addiction and PTSD is likely to evolve as your treatment needs change. If someone isn’t responding to one particular type of treatment, these facilities can quickly alter the treatment strategy in order to maximize the odds of success.

Many people seeking dual diagnosis outpatient treatment for addiction and PTSD want no part of the stigma attached to addiction or mental illness, as both are still highly and negatively stigmatized medical conditions. They want to be able to keep their daily routine as close to normal as possible.


Support is one of the most purposeful elements of dual diagnosis outpatient treatment for addiction and PTSD. Someone who is trying to recover from substance abuse and mental illness cannot do so without the necessary love and support from family, loved ones, and healthcare professionals, such as the ones who work at dual diagnosis outpatient treatment programs. Clients will learn essential coping methods and tools so that they can deal with the issues related to their substance use disorder, such as temptation, withdrawal, and craving as well as with those related to their psychological disorder, such as loneliness, fear, depression, and anxiety in healthy, productive ways.

Mental illness and addiction quite often go hand in hand. Dual diagnosis outpatient treatment for addiction and PTSD helps those who experience mental illness and chemical dependency so that they can heal and recover while still living their lives, taking care of their families, and/or pursuing their careers. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


Treating Mental Health with Virtual Reality?

Treating Mental Health with Virtual Reality?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Virtual reality is becoming less and less a piece of science fiction and more of a reality over the horizon. The graphics for video games have continued to get better and better over the years, and now tech companies have put out and continue to develop headsets that enable us to totally immerse ourselves into the pixelated construct of an alternate reality.

What some have showed some concern for is that the longer the illusion continues, the more you start to forget that it’s an illusion at all, but others think this could help with treating mental health issues. Neurologist Olaf Blanke of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland is just one researcher who believes in the healing power of virtual reality, stating:

“Two minutes of simulation can override an entire lifelong experience when it comes to what your body is and where it is,”

Next, what happens in virtual reality (VR) could change your behavior for hours, days or even months to come.

Virtual Reality in Theory

Researchers like Olaf Blanke have started to reveal how the brain responds to simulated realities, and something that has been discovered is that taking off the headset doesn’t end the effects of the technology. Unplugging yourself from the system doesn’t eliminate its impact on a person.

In theory watching an avatar (digital representation) of yourself exercise makes you more confident in your ability to work out , and as a result  more likely to exercise. Seeing your avatar quickly gain weight after overeating can curb your appetite. That avatar can also lessen physical pain or treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

So how does VR impact mental health? Is it only the newest inventions that will work? Most would guess you need top-of-the-line technology, but actually for psychological impact by VR therapy it probably won’t hinge on the advanced capabilities of the upcoming projects like Sony’s Project Morpheus or Microsoft’s HoloLens. Even the most basic ’90s-era virtual environment is often enough to trick your brain into new patterns of thought.

Still, the price and overall bulkiness of these devices eventually decrease enough that VR will become a more commonplace tool for soothing bruised psyches or improving well-being. Blanke stated,

“These technologies could start to merge with what is already becoming another big field: wearable health.”

Virtual Reality Research

Researchers first turned to simple studies on video gaming when inquiring how virtual settings might affect our offline lives. That specific area of study continues to inform VR work as it remains easier and cheaper. The true VR requires things like:

  • Headsets to surround a subject with an alternate reality
  • Sensors to track their motions
  • Faster software to translate their gestures to an avatar without a big time lag

Any gamer knows with just a monitor and a handheld controller you can be partially immersed in another world, and research on video game play has implied that you don’t have to be aware of the technology for it to have an effect.

Choosing Characters

Gunwoo Yoon is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted a study was published in 2014 in the journalPsychological Science, where he gave undergraduates a choice to play as either superman or Voldemort in a computer game. After 5 minutes of gameplay the students were asked to stop playing and help with what they claimed was an unrelated experiment: portioning out chocolate and hot chili sauce for the next volunteer to eat. There were 3 important factors:

  • The participants said they did not relate specifically to either character
  • Those who had played superman generously served up more chocolate than did either those people who had played Voldemort or a control group
  • Those who played as Voldemort doled out the most hot sauce

These discoveries are leading Yoon to pursue more practical applications of virtual reality and gaming for therapeutic value. He’s planning virtual realities that let patients with autism or social anxieties interact with avatars in everyday settings. And he’s curious about how to use virtual realities to boost healthy habits.

Associating with the Avatars

When asked Blanke explained what the difference is between seeing a character that you identify as another person, and seeing an avatar that you view as yourself by crediting the temporo-parietal cortex. This area of the brain, where the temporal and parietal lobes meet, is thought to integrate all sorts of information from different sources.

So what this means is when you look at an avatar that’s meant to be someone other than you, the temporo-parietal cortex stays quiet. But when the avatar starts mirroring your movements, showing your heart rate or speaking your words, this is all tricking your brain into thinking the avatar is your own body and then the temporo-parietal cortex reacts, like when you watch yourself in a mirror.

In 2010, Stanford researchers determined that when people watched an avatar of themselves run on a treadmill they became more likely to work out. Virtual realities with avatar gameplay are already being utilized in psychiatric clinics that specialize in the treatment of phobias and anxieties, where people are exposed to their fears in a safe manner through the VR program until they can build a new association with that fear.

At the Virtual Reality Medical Center in San Diego, these kinds of therapies are an active part of the treatment program that is used on patients every day, and since the 1990’s the Executive director Brenda Wiederhold, says she’s been using the technology on patients. Wiederhold herself is also a researcher at UC San Diego.

The Proteus Effect

The Proteus Effect, part of another school of thought concerning the use of avatars and virtual reality in a therapeutic setting, was developed by researchers and is essentially the idea that someone’s behavior can be affected by the actual appearance of their avatar in a virtual setting.

The appearance aspect of the avatar is where Yoon’s idea we evaluated earlier are actually rooted. Yoon’s thought is that those who identify with a villainous avatar will act slightly more nefariously, and in turn those who identify with a healthy avatar and will naturally want to be healthier. It has less do with the virtual environment and more to do with that other-you. Somehow the mind makes that connection between itself and the virtual representation of the individual, and influences behavior.

Because both the environment and the “self” can be so easily manipulated in a virtual reality, most experts suspect that virtual reality can be used to study the effects of numerous aspects of the world on our thoughts. For instance, there is currently a lab study exploring how virtual reality can modify people’s empathy or prejudices toward one another, and with that there are surely other aspects of social and personalize development that can all stem from whether or not we harness the power of virtual reality in the field of therapy and mental health treatment.

The more time that passes it seems the more we learn about how technology has the capacity to influence mental illness, compulsive behavior, and even addiction. But now we are also seeing where technology can help us make change for the better. Innovations in treatment and holistic healing are constantly making new and exciting improvements in recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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