After a traumatic event, people are often encouraged to talk about what happened and share their experiences or emotions related to the event. Experts often suggest that holding these feelings inside can lead to mental or emotional problems down the road. According to a new study appearing in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, it may be okay to not talk about these feelings after a traumatic or stressful event.
The study focused on individuals who were exposed to a collective trauma, but did not experience the direct loss of a friend or family member - specifically, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In a large-scale survey that involved participants from across the nation, respondents were allowed to share their feelings about the terrorist attacks on the day of September 11 as well as a few days later. Individuals who shared their feelings were then compared to those who opted not to reveal their thought and emotions.
According to conventional ideas on coping with traumatic events, those who did not express themselves should have been more likely to show signs of negative mental and physical health over time. What researchers discovered, however, was the opposite effect. Individuals who opted to share their emotions were more likely to demonstrate negative symptoms.
"We should be telling people there is likely nothing wrong if they do not want to express their thoughts and feelings after experiencing a collective trauma," suggests lead author Mark Seery, Ph.D. of the University of Buffalo. "In fact, they can cope quite successfully and, according to our results, are likely to be better off than someone who does want to express his or her feelings."Poll: Do you find it helpful to express your feelings after experiencing a stressful or
- I share my emotions
- I keep my feelings inside
- Depends on the situation
- View Results
News Release: It's Okay to Keep Those Feelings Inside, New Study Suggests