Best news source for someone with anxiety and depression?
August 2, 2018 12:43 AM   Subscribe

I stopped watching my local news several years ago because all it was, night after night, was mayhem and violence, death and destruction. They were selling bad news and only bad news, all the bad news, all the time.

I still watched the CBS Evening news, because I wanted to keep up on what was going on in the national and international arenas. Where the next hurricane was going to hit, what was going on in outer space, whether anything was going to ever come out of the mess and the Horn of Africa. But then in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, I had to stop watching that news too, because it was all what the hell, are you serious, you've got to be kidding me, really, fuck me sideways, oh God I'm going to die.

However, I now find that I feel rather uninformed about the world around me. But I want to make sure that I mindful of my mental health, since I have bipolar disorder and about 37 different kinds of anxiety. There are times when my best friend will tell me about something that happened in the news and I'll get so upset, so depressed, have a panic attack, that I just don't even want to talk to him anymore. Ever. Where do I go to keep up on what's important, without drowning in all the negativity?
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
I find that listening to NPR news once a day keeps me sufficiently informed. Other than that, I only read background reporting (like The Guardian or the New Yorker) or very filtered news-type stuff (like the Megathread here). TV news in general are toxic for my mental health and I avoid them. Same with Facebook/Twitter clickbaity breathless ‚news‘.
posted by The Toad at 1:53 AM on August 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


Samesies my dude. The thing that's helped me stay informed but not freak out is bbc news, which I get as part of my tv package (for now, dun dun dunn) and which I can put on as background tv and learn all about many different things all over the world in any given ten minutes of paying attention. Also the constant distressful tedium about Brexit is heartening in a cathartic but rueful "it me" kind of way. (I'm sure there's a German word for this sensation.)

Anyway, they do seem to intersperse the dire news with interesting stuff about things happening in the world that are good but maybe not so dazzling, like stories about school attendance being up for girls in African countries and why, interesting applications for new technologies, or solid explanations of what current topics even are, and they almost never have deliberately inflammatory assholes as guests.

They also repeat coverage multiple times a day to hit different time zones across the world, so there's not always some rehashing of an old story by a different talking head, which helps me know it's time to turn it off and do something good for myself.

I think the big thing for me on why this helps me keep my warring anxiety and self-loathing (about current events and my ignorance thereof) at bay is that it's not from America for Americans. It helps me refocus and remember that there's a whole world of people who whom America is a definite factor but not the end all be all, and they also have no control over it. I can watch Anderson Cooper be suave and concerned for hours every day, sure, but it's better for me to not have that concern pointed at me at all. So maybe you could look for other international sources of world news? I also pay attention to my extremely local blog that covers the current events of just my neighborhood with a little bit of city stuff when it's relevant. That also helps keep me connected on a much smaller scale. Basically, I've found success in scaling way up and scaling way down in how I get my news.
posted by Mizu at 2:22 AM on August 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


Ok this is going to sound weird but it works for me: Buzzfeed. For me the top article on the homepage is some sort of current news piece, often long form and pretty good. Then the rest of the page is like 20-30% political/stress news and another 30-50% celeb/pop culture news and the rest is roundups of funny tweets of the week, roundups of puppies and kittens to cleanse your soul, or a quiz on your choice of pasta telling you when you're going to get married. It works for me.

Also, I don't know if you have the equivalent but twice a week we wake up to BBC Radio 6 hosted by Shaun Keaveny. It's mostly music based and very light hearted. But because it's BBC Radio, it has a 1 minute news update on the hour. I usually catch the 7 and 8 am slots. Twice a week is enough for me to feel informed but not overwhelmed.
posted by like_neon at 2:59 AM on August 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


I feel you. I have terrible anxiety and just cannot keep up with the news without sacrificing my mental health. My solution to this is to get away from the daily news cycle and only consume long form reporting — deep analysis of trends or certain topics, rather than a barrage of events.

I'd recommend the BBC podcasts The Inquiry, The Documentary, and People Fixing the World. They're about global issues without constantly focusing on hot-button, disaster porn topics. The Documentary in particular seeks out reporting on a rich global variety of special interest topics that aren't distressing, and People Fixing the World focuses on social programs and innovations that attempt to solve world problems, which is a great antidote.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 3:20 AM on August 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm subscribed to the Daily Good newsletter. While not immune to stories about negative developments, it tries to put a realistically positive spin on things. Have a look at their website and sign up for the newsletter if you like.
posted by Silky Slim at 3:22 AM on August 2, 2018


Anyway, they do seem to intersperse the dire news with interesting stuff about things happening in the world that are good but maybe not so dazzling, like stories about school attendance being up for girls in African countries and why, interesting applications for new technologies, or solid explanations of what current topics even are, and they almost never have deliberately inflammatory assholes as guests.
I listen to the BBC World Service radio a lot for similar reasons - it's on bog standard radio in the UK these days and widely available online. They know their core audience for the English service is middle-class and generally in Africa and South Asia, so it can have a bias towards coverage of those areas at the expense of non-English-speaking parts of the world. But that also means that it has a much younger audience than most news-based stations and doesn't do a lot of the kind of old-white-people-moaning that you get on domestic talk radio (young people today! immigrants! the internet! things we don't want to try and understand!).

I particularly like the Trending slot which takes a look at internet and social media goings-on around the world without the hysterical "eeevils of the internet!" tone that domestic broadcasters can often take. From Our Own Correspondent is also worth a listen - it's not a news programme but takes a look at things happening around the world from the point of view of the BBC reporter based there. World Hacks is good, too - they talk about simple inventions and policies that are improving people's lives in various countries.

You are right about local news - I dumped it entirely. If something happens in my area that I need to know about, someone will tell me. Otherwise, the local press and TV simply gives a daily rundown of violent crimes that have happened, shoves cameras in the faces of people in distress, generally acts like a dramatic soap opera rather than a journalistic source. Even national news is something I only bother with sparingly - the Brexit drip-drip-drip of bad news is too much.
posted by winterhill at 3:38 AM on August 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


I used the news app inkly to track several topics important to me, and also to keep a brief overview of what's going on. They have a prominent "Good News" tab and their news includes a lot of BBC/international papers with in-depth articles rather than brief sensational pieces. I wish they had slightly more local sources for my area, but overall it gives me a good 20 minute catch-up with the world that isn't depressing and lets me dig in deep on interesting news easily.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:03 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Does your community have a local newspaper? Is it any good? If so, it will undoubtedly have feel good stories and lower stakes reporting, and you'll be investing your emotional energy (and money) in your community where it's needed.
posted by toastedcheese at 4:05 AM on August 2, 2018 [11 favorites]


I've been getting a lot of my news from the local newspaper - I subscribed to the digital edition. I live near a state capital city, so there is a murder in town every few nights, but writing on a 24-hour deadline and not a 24-minute deadline seems to temper things. Even the current news doesn't come across so hysterically overwrought.
posted by COD at 4:58 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


You say you feel uninformed. Why do you want to feel informed? What level of information is sufficient?

I generally assume that if I am informed enough to feel confident in my votes and where to direct my charitable donations, that is sufficient. I find that online media is designed to ramp up my emotions and hoard my time, and I do not want to participate in or help perpetuate that model. I am also, like you, very cognizant of what I think of as “anxiety masturbation”—where I am just anxious and therefore consuming ALL THE NEWS.

It’s way easier to do that anxiety masturbation with online media than with print / long-form journalism. So I don’t read online news or watch any news shows. I watch Frontline, I listen to one podcast (the Josh Marshall podcast) and otherwise try to read only print journalism—specifically, the Sunday NYT and the Economist. (For a while, I watched the PBS News Hour on tv, which is by far the best journalism on television these days). I also try to cap my news consumption at one hour a day.

This shift has been amazing for my anxiety. Highly recommend quitting online news. Highly.

Finally, if you have not read this article, you should.
posted by suncages at 7:16 AM on August 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


I like BBC, CBC, and Sky News.

I read/watch others, but those are distanced and detached enough that I don't get the same visceral sense of dread I get from US news.

I also listen to NPR.

I try to limit the quantity, but I am a new hound, so I spend a lot of my day in the vortex of the internet outrage machine. I'm trying to back away without disengaging entirely, and it's hard.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:46 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't deal with TV and curate my information through RSS feeds.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:46 AM on August 2, 2018


BBC's Science Hour, The Inquiry, The Compass, The Documentary and "Seriously..." are all very good, semi-long-form documentary podcasts about the state of the world without covering current events per se. They cover some anxiety-producing topics (like infectious disease, climate change, etc) but they do it in a deliberative way without peddling fear. They're about as far as you can get from local TV news.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:57 AM on August 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


My city lets me subscribe to email alerts about special events, warnings (e.g. water use restrictions), public works, road closures, etc. My elected officials have emails about various issues and upcoming votes. I have apps for weather and traffic. Instead of email you could have a carefully curated twitter feed. I follow the Parks Department and the transit service, for example.

I almost never watch local news and I never feel I'm missing anything.
posted by AFABulous at 8:01 AM on August 2, 2018


For local news, I subscribe to my local newspaper online.* Unless they're genuinely terrible, it's the most/best local resource. The local tv stations have facebook feeds, but often run non-local sensationalist crap. I have the NPR app so I can listen on my own schedule. It is probably the most broad news - they cover a lot of interesting non-political stuff. Nexdoor.com is okayish and has some notices for local events.

I 'like' a bunch of international newspapers on fb, but fb keeps burying them. Google changed its algorithm for the news feed on my phone and I'm not real happy with it, but I often read it while the coffee brews. I read BBC.com, Times of London, NYTimes, WaPo, Guardian frequently online.
*if you really can't afford it, use private browsing and/or different browsers and/or clear the cache. Try to pay for some news, we need them.
posted by theora55 at 8:43 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


The printed version of the local big-city newspaper is much better than the radio or (shudder) television, and somewhat better than the online version, because you can so much more easily skim the headlines and avoid taking in too much of those stories that you really do not need to be reading. As a bonus, your subscription payments promote the public good of maintaining a free press.

Lots of people have been recommending listening to NPR. I used to do that frequently, before the election, but now there's far too much "neutral" reporting on Trump and his fans for me to take. Recordings of his voice are something that certainly do belong in the news, but I can't handle listening to them. I can listen to only limited stretches of NPR before I have to switch it off.
posted by chromium at 8:46 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


NPR is feeble anymore, and besides, lately Mike Pesca seems to come on and scream about sports every 13 seconds, but BBC radio is the best. Luckily I seem to be wakening naturally at 4 a.m., so I get two hours of adult humans talking every morning.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:28 AM on August 2, 2018


I really like the Crooked Media podcasts. They are explicitly left-leaning and do not attempt any kind of balance that treats right-wing arguments as though they're being made in good faith. That may not be what you're looking for, but for me, the issue with NPR et al is that they refuse to consider that republicans are often acting in bad faith. The gaslighting really spikes my anxiety.

Crooked Media has a variety of podcasts to choose from, released throughout the week. Some are more conversation-focused, but most focus on current events through a particular lens. While the state of the country and world right now is super depressing, they also usually include a call to action based on who is working on the ground to fix these issues and/or a discussion of uplifting news (e.g., "end on a high note"). If you want a standard politics podcast, opt for Pod Save America or its lighter/funnier cousin, Lovett or Leave It; for social-justice focus, try Pod Save the People; for only women's voices, there's Hysteria; a review of pop culture news can be found on Keep It; and very-informed foreign policy news discussion takes place on Pod Save the World.

The news is depressing, but I find it's easier to deal with when communicated by folks who actually acknowledge that it's depressing and give you information on what concrete actions you can take to improve things.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:39 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Reddit's a quagmire in many respects, but the /r/UpliftingNews subreddit is useful in this context.

It is usually composed of actually positive trends that are not reported by the "bleed-it-leads" media, not the happy /r/aww fluff you'd see in other positive news locales.
posted by WCityMike at 12:36 PM on August 3, 2018


Here's my strategy: once a day I brace myself and take one minute, literally, to scan the top 25 posts on reddit.com/r/news. If there's something that does catch my eye, like exciting new developments in science/medicine, I'm allowed to read the article, but most days it's just the one quick scan. I've been amazed at how that tiny amount of effort takes me from "huh? what hurricane/wildfire/plague/explosion?" to "oh yeah, I heard about that, but I don't know the details" in casual conversation. It helps too that I've trained most of my family and friends to not talk about my main trigger point, which is animals. No, I don't care that your story about a stranded, wounded animal has a happy ending, I don't want to hear it, and I don't care if it's rude, I will interrupt and tell you to change the subject.
posted by storminator7 at 11:46 AM on August 4, 2018


National/International: in the U.S., I still rely heavily on watching the 6pm PBS Newshour. Certainly, they cover the depressing stuff, because that's what we're dealing with. But I appreciate that the presentation of it is calm, while still being accessible (to non-experts of foreign policy etc) and going deep (depending on the segment). It's an evening routine for me, so it's comforting in that way. I usually watch the previous night's broadcast -- not sure why exactly, but maybe it's something about the slight delay between the day's headlines and my post-work wind-down that makes me feel a liiiiiittle less panicky (like, it's just catching me up on what happened, so I'm not always feeling right in the middle of the craziness).

Also, sometimes I skip it and don't feel too bad, because I know there'll be a new one the next day. It's an hour (half-hour on weekends), so there's a cap on it (versus my endless anxious scrolling of online headlines, etc). I can fold laundry or zone out slightly if it's a segment I don't like, then hone back in. I like the reporters -- they're super professional, and they're neither cable-news opiners nor local-news fearmongerers (depending on your locality).

As a viewer, you get these touches of humanity that really come through, even though it's PBS-dry and it's a news program. They often feature toward the end more human-story/focused-remote segments. There are no ads to muddy the focus, and you get the feeling that there are *people* crafting this show, and that *they too* also crave some inspiring moments to feature in the show. I mean, they'e been doing the Newshour for how many decades -- so how much depressing shit have they had to wade through to get here? A lot!

And for instance, this week after talking with a reporter about the continuing problems with the border child-separation confusion, the report and the anchor (Judy Woodruff) BOTH had tears in their eyes. Just a moment of it, and it was so natural it kind of took me aback for a second. But you feel right there with them. And then they guide you to another news story.
posted by cluebucket at 4:36 PM on August 4, 2018


Sorry, I realize I blathered on about PBS Newshour while you already mentioned CBS evening news ... they've just been the steady crew of people I keep coming back to, and less depressing than Democracy Now (whom I still love).
Anyway!!

Like the Buzzfeed suggestion above, I will scroll through the latest headlines & stories on The Cut. They cover general big headlines, but it's relatively bite-size and sometimes includes lite snark (for the pressure-valve release feeling). Then there are lighter or non-news posts to temper it all.
posted by cluebucket at 4:45 PM on August 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


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