Stressed Out? Just Forget About It
WASHINGTON - Ignoring trauma may be
healthier than pouring out your heart about it,
Israeli researchers reported on Tuesday.
Report after report has detailed the post-traumatic
stress suffered by the U.S. population after the Sept.
11 attacks on New York and Washington, but a study
published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine
suggests it may be better to suppress those feelings.
"The findings of this study suggest that a repressive
coping style may promote adjustment to traumatic
stress, both in the short and longer term," Karni
Ginzburg of the Bob Shapell School of Social Work at
Tel Aviv University in Israel, who led the study, said
in a statement.
Ginzburg and colleagues studied 116 patients who were
hospitalized for a heart attack and suffering from
anxiety over their near-miss with death. They compared
them to 72 people who had not suffered heart attacks.
"The damage to the heart, with its symbolic meaning as
the essence of the human being, may shatter the
patient's sense of wholeness and safety," Ginzburg
The patients took standardized tests for acute stress
disorder, which check for symptoms such as distress,
trauma flashbacks, difficulty carrying out everyday
tasks, insomnia, and poor concentration.
This syndrome is called post-traumatic stress disorder
if the symptoms last or occur more than a month later,
and the patients were re-tested after seven months.
They were also asked questions about coping style --
whether they ignored their anxiety or tended to dwell
People who tended to repress their anxiety had the
lowest levels of PTSD, the researchers reported.
Many people have done studies on how to cope with
stress, and results are mixed. But Ginzburg and
colleagues cited studies that suggest that if the
patient does not go too far into denial, repression
may work well.
"Prior studies report that repressors tend to perceive
themselves as competent, self-controlled and having
adequate coping skills," Ginzburg said.
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