The researchers then compared people who chose to express their thoughts and feelings versus those who chose not to express, focusing on such measures as whether they had any post-traumatic stress symptoms, their physical health and generalized distress.
If the assumption about the necessity of expression is correct - that failing to express one's feelings indicates some harmful repression or other pathology - then people who chose not to express should have been more likely to experience negative mental and physical health symptoms over time, the researchers said.
"However, we found exactly the opposite: people who chose not to express were better off than people who did choose to express," Seery said.
Moreover, when the researchers looked only at people who chose to express their thoughts and feelings, and tested the length of their responses, they found a similar pattern. People who expressed more were worse off than people who expressed less.