Sometimes admitting something about yourself out loud instead of keeping it bottled up inside is one of the best first steps to overcoming a struggle. According to researchers, that happens to be the case for anxiety in teens and adults.
According to a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science, putting a label on anxiety and saying out loud what an individual is truly feeling can greatly reduce their fear response.
The more words, the better
The study, lead by Katharina Kicanski of Stanford University, found that the more words people use associated with fear and other reactions to anxiety, the greater the reduction to anxiety symptoms.
As the line from Harry Potter goes, “fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” By saying out loud how people are feeling, they are able to let those fears and anxieties go. This can make people feel instantly less anxious.
An unexpected result
Another interesting aspect of this study is the unexpected results. Participants in the study truly did not expect that speaking about their emotions out loud would have any effect on their overall anxiety. But it did. How, you might ask? Skin conductance allowed for these results to be seen.
Researchers compared the results of vocalizing and labeling emotions to popular techniques used to help lessen the effects of anxiety in teens and adults. The techniques they used are known as distraction and reappraisal.
In reappraisal, individuals are instructed to change their thoughts around anxiety. To think about it differently.
During the study, reappraisal was used on a group of people with anxiety towards spiders. Through reappraisal, the individuals were told to use words considered to be “neutral”. For example, one person said “Looking at the spider is not dangerous for me.”
Other individuals were told to speak about their emotions towards the spider. They formed a sentence that included a negative word about the spider and one or two negative words or phrases about their emotional response to the spider.
All participants were exposed to the spiders for varying periods of time and came back one week later for a follow up meeting.
Researchers found that those in the group which used labels to express their emotions towards the spiders had a reduced skin conductance response compared to the groups who experienced distraction and reappraisal. By using words related to their anxiety and fear response, there were greater reductions in overall anxiety in teens and adults studied.
By having a lower skin conductance, those who spoke about their fears and anxieties out loud and labelled them were less fearful of spiders overall.
There have been a variety of studies associated with verbalizing fear and anxiety in teens and adults. Many of these studies have concluded that overall distress is reduced relative to conditions in which anxiety in teens and adults were never expressed verbally or through writing.
So what does this tell us? If you’re feeling anxious, talk about it out loud! It, apparently, can lessen the overall effects.
Solstice East can help your anxious teen
If you have a daughter struggling with anxiety or another emotional or behavioral issue, Solstice East might be able to help. Solstice East is a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-17.
For more information about Solstice East, please call (855) 672-7058 today!