How Do You Really Feel?

If you can't put on a happy face, try putting the pen to the page.

By Marjorie Centofanti, published on July 1, 1999 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

"Put on a happy face." The advice in that bit of Broadway
fluff--that suppressing dark thoughts is good--may be the wrong idea for
people prone to depression.

People who are depressed intuitively squelch negative emotions when
they're feeling fine, says Richard Wenzlaff, Ph.D. But this takes
significant cognitive energy. So when stress or other mental demands
deplete that energy, "suppressed thoughts surface, and more potently than
ever," he says. When the University of Texas psychologist asked half of
the subjects taking a word test to memorize a number sequence, he found
that people at risk of depression showed abnormally thinking when their
brains were "loaded" with numbers.

Instead of keeping blue thoughts to yourself, Wenzlaff recommends
that people "keep a thought diary where you jot down the negatives. Then,
let them go."