Beware! Being trolled can damage you psychologically
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Kaniza Garari
Hyderabad: As per a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA), being trolled online and facing discrimination on the basis of caste or creed not only affects a person psychologically, but it can also have a biological impact.
Scientists are trying to ponder the complicated problem of discrimination and online bullying, which cannot be directly evaluated using a controlled group of people. They believe that apart from causing psychological problems such as depression and social withdrawal, it may also have biological effects.
Dr Arshad Punjani, a consultant physician, says, "When such an event occurs, the body feels a micro-trauma, but it does not show signs of it immediately. Over a period of time, it can come across as stress. Those who continuously feel discriminated against develop an in-built mechanism to deal with it. At times, there is a burst of aggression, and all that has been retained within emerges. At this stage there is a psychological disruption, which results in increased blood pressure and blood sugar levels and also the development of acidity."
At present, many middle-aged and elderly people are also active on social media. They often find their thought patterns and allegiances continuously being attacked by online trolls.
Dr Ravi Babu, a senior general physician, says, "In the past two years, patients have come to us with severe migraines, headaches, depression, and high blood pressure after having a major argument with a group of people on social media.
Often the patient feels side-lined or ganged-up against for his opinion. Those who want to defend him are not able to do so openly because they fear being targeted themselves. Being trolled and bullied online can cause both psychological and biological trauma, which can manifest in different forms in different individuals. It is very difficult to get to the cause of the trauma as only a few patients are willing to open up and talk about it."
Repeated or continuous discrimination at work, in social settings, or online can result in feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness.
Dr Minhaj Nasirabdi, a senior psychiatrist, says, "We often find that people go into their shells. They try to avoid getting into a situation where they may be at the receiving end of aggressive behaviour due to their comments. They begin to socially isolate themselves, which affects their personality. Those who are volatile suffer from anxiety disorders."
Experts say that persons suffering from cardiovascular diseases or diabetes may experience an aggravation of their conditions when provoked online.