Healthy Living: Talking About Your Problems- Does It Make Things Better or Worse? 

By- Dr. David PrescottShould You Share Your Problems With Others? People who struggle with excessive anxiety or depression often face a dilemma. Should they talk about their concerns with other people? On the one hand, other people are sometimes able to help us to gain a fresh perspective that helps break up our worry or sadness. On the other hand, talking about a problem over and over may lead a person to conclude that their life is truly sad and that there is no solution. The Argument in Favor of Talking About Problems: One line of psychological research suggests that getting support and encouragement from others helps people with depression or anxiety work through their feelings. Particularly with depression, people often become excessively isolated and withdrawn. Historically, psychologists and counselors have encouraged people to share their difficult feelings and worries. The theory goes that keeping things bottled up inside you will only make things worse. The Argument Against Talking About Problems: On the other hand, telling a friend or family member about your worries and sadness may backfire. Reactions can vary from unsympathetic to critical or harsh. In some cases, repeatedly talking about your unhappiness may reinforce the idea that your life is in tough shape. Recent research suggests that for teenage girls, talking frequently with a close friend about personal worries actually make depression and anxiety worse, through a dynamic called co-rumination. Co-rumination is defined as the tendency to spend too much time talking over problems and dwelling on negative feelings. It appears that co-rumination leads people to feel worse, rather than better. Sometimes, talking repeatedly about a problem or negative situation can eventually drive friends away. Finding A Middle Ground for Talking About Your Problems: Like many things affecting your mental health, the best approach to talking your problems with others is to find a middle ground. People who feel isolated and alone would probably benefit from reaching out to others. However, if you find yourself stuck in a rut, having the same conversation about the same worries or negative events repeatedly, a change in tactic is probably in order. Tips for How to Constructively Talk About Anxiety and Depression: One solution to the dilemma of whether or not it will help to talk with others about your worries or depression, is to strive to have your conversations end up in a constructive or positive place. Characteristics of helpful conversations include: · Identify Small Steps Towards Action: Simply describing negative feelings such as excessive anxiety or depression may not help you feel better. Rather, think of a small step you could take to do something different to cope with your feeling or situation. · Challenge your negative thinking: The feelings we have about others or about an event in our life depend on the lens through which we view them. Challenge your typical ways of looking at other people or other events. Is there a more positive way to view things? · Let go of unattainable goals: Sometimes our frustrations come from setting a goal that is unrealistic or beyond our control. For example, your solution to cope with a person who criticizes you may be for that other person to change their attitude. Changing someone else is usually unattainable, or at least unrealistic. Try to shift your goal to something that you can control. · Distract Yourself From a Problem or a Worry: Try not to have the same worrisome conversation over and over. If you and a friend seem to always end up talking about the same problematic people or situations, purposefully direct your conversations to another topic. Or better yet, go do something to take your mind away from your worries. For More Information: American Psychological Association “Psychology Topics”: