Keep quiet to beat stress

Why bottling it all up inside is the best way to stay sane

Bottling up traumatic experiences could help ‘ease trauma’, claim scientists.

After years of being told it’s better to let it all out, on the contrary, researchers now say those that deal with stressful experiences internally could be better in the long run.

At the University at Buffalo, 3,000 people were monitored in the aftermath of 9/11 and it was discovered that those who initially didn’t want to speak about the experience were less likely to still be badly affected by the incident two years later.

‘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,’ explains Dr Mark Seery, who led the team at the University at 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.’

However, there are plenty who disagree with his sentiments.

Professor Stephen Joseph, who is based in the UK and specialises in trauma following disasters, said it’s important not to generalise when it comes to dealing with traumatised patients.

‘Those people who wanted to express their feelings immediately after 9/11 may have been those who were most deeply affected by it, so it is not entirely unsurprising that they may still have symptoms two years later.’

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