Look around nowadays and it won’t take you long to find somebody who is connected to social media account. Whether they’re tweeting to complain about a late train or Instagramming their lunch, it seems we’re all addicted to social networking.

It is particularly disconcerting then, that, far from the anxiety and other social problems that these networks have been reported to cause, reports are now claiming that social media could even be a catalyst to post-traumatic stress disorder. The findings from the University of Bradford claimed that those who had been exposed to disturbing material on these sites could exhibit symptoms of the condition.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is, akin to many other mental health conditions, one which is generally stigmatised and not discussed as often as it should be. The condition is often associated with veterans, who may have suffered through disturbing events throughout their time in the forces, and as such exhibit symptoms such as moodswings, insomnia and violent flashbacks. Thankfully, just as awareness of mental health issues is becoming more prevalent, (ironically, largely thanks in part to the aforementioned social media) so too is the discussion of a potential cure.

Many experts would recommend a strict course of psychotherapy combined with medication to help sufferers. However, in recent years, many more unconventional methods of battling the disorder have come into fruition.

One particularly interesting case was that of Todd Vance, a San Diego veteran who is now the proud founder of Pugilistic Offensive Warrior Mixed Martial Arts (POW MMA), based in North Park. For Vance, cage fighting is the perfect solution to PTSD. He says: “Physically, it satisfies that adrenaline rush. It satisfies that intensity that I missed from combat. Mentally, it really does calm the mind because you’re forced to be present in the moment.” Vance is now committed to spreading the good word of MMA as a means of overcoming the traumatic effects of the disorder.

But while martial arts may be one unconventional method of recovery, other experts have claimed another perhaps unusual method has proven to be effective: gaming. In 2013, scientists at the Charité University Medicine in Berlin published a study named “Playing Super Mario Induces Structural Brain Plasticity: Gray Matter Changes Resulting from Training with a Commercial Video Game.” The report claimed that those who suffered from disorders which affected brain size, such as PTSD, benefited from playing these types of games. With the increasing gaming offering out there today, be it Super Mario or even Canadian online slots, gamers are being pushed to even bigger mental limits and as such are benefiting from improvements in brain structure.

The aforementioned examples are just two of the myriad methods which can be used to combat this crippling condition, and it is a testament to the fact that that which is generally stigmatised can actually be used for the greater good. It is particularly good for proponents of MMA, who often have to face public backlash from those who criticise the sport on the grounds of safety. If these ‘taboo’ hobbies can be instrumental in improving people’s health, who knows what else they can do?

It’s great news for PDST sufferers, and it’s great news for fans, participants and those looking to try a new sport.

For more information on POW MMA, click here.