Does writing about suicidal thoughts and feelings reduce them?

Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2002 Winter;32(4):428-40.

Abstract

To assess whether writing with cognitive change or exposure instructions reduces depression or suicidality, 121 undergraduates screened for suicidality wrote for 20 minutes on 4 days over 2 weeks. They were randomly assigned to reinterpret or to write and rewrite traumatic events/emotions, or to write about innocuous topics. The three groups (N = 98) who completed pre-, post-, and 6-week follow-up were not different on suicidality or depression. All subjects reported fewer automatic negative thoughts over the 2 weeks; they also reported higher self-regard but more health center visits at follow-up. Suicidal thoughts may be more resistant than physical health to writing interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12501967

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Effects of guided written disclosure of stressful experiences on clinic visits and symptoms in frequent clinic attenders.

Fam Pract. 2002 Apr;19(2):161-6.

Gidron Y1, Duncan E, Lazar A, Biderman A, Tandeter H, Shvartzman P.

Psychosocial variables such as major stressful life events/daily stressful events have been associated with health care utilization.

OBJECTIVE:

Our aim was to examine the effects of a guided disclosure protocol (GDP) of past traumas on symptoms and clinic visits among frequent clinic attenders.

METHODS:

Forty-one frequent clinic attenders (> or =2 visits/3 months) took part. Patients were randomly assigned individually to either a casual content writing control group (n = 19) or a trauma content writing experimental GDP group (n = 22). GDP patients wrote about an upsetting event chronologically (day 1), verbally described their thoughts and feelings and described the event’s impact on life (day 2), and finally wrote about their current perspective on and future coping with the event (day 3). Three months later, patients were reassessed blindly for symptoms and clinic visits, and an average of 15 months later they were assessed blindly for clinic visits again.

RESULTS:

Compared with controls, GDP patients reported lower symptom levels at 3 months (2.3 versus 5.2), and made fewer clinic visits during the 3 (1.3 versus 3.0) and 15 month (5.1 versus 9.7) follow-ups. The percentage of GDP patients making > or =10 visits during the 15 month follow-up was smaller (10%) than among controls (33%).

CONCLUSIONS:

The findings extend previous findings to frequent clinic users, using a new form of written disclosure aimed at shifting trauma from implicit to explicit memory. The GDP may be an inexpensive additional intervention in primary care for reducing symptoms and clinic visits among frequent clinic users.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11906981